William Parker Quartet | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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William Parker Quartet

William Parker Quartet

Nick Ruechel

When: Fri., Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. and Sat., Oct. 17 2015
Price: $25, $20 in advance
Prolific composer, bassist, and bandleader William Parker has released four box sets in the past four years. But only one, Wood Flute Songs (Aum Fidelity), focuses on a single band. Parker’s ensemble goes by different names at different points in the set’s eight discs of live recordings, but his core group throughout is his working quartet: trumpeter Lewis Barnes, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, and drummer Hamid Drake. Parker first convened these players in 2000, and they’ve proved themselves flexible enough to handle whatever he throws at them, be it jubilant melodies, soulful vocal music, or volcanic free improvisation. Brown’s convoluted, acidic runs make a great sweet-and-sour combination with Barnes’s relatively lyrical solos; the contrast in their approaches makes it all the more thrilling when they lock onto one of Parker’s riffs. The bassist also plays Japanese shakuhachi flute and nasal double reeds, and he and Drake contribute to the music’s aura of universality by shifting fluidly from swing-based jazz rhythms to calypso, reggae, or pan-African grooves. The quartet will play two sets.
— Bill Meyer

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