David Budbill/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Songs for a Suffering World

The most ubiquitous alum of saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc’s ’70s band Ensemble Muntu is William Parker, who, in addition to bass playing and composing, avidly pursues creative writing, which occasionally seeps into his recordings as lyrics or sleeve texts. It is therefore no surprise that he would be an empathetic collaborator to a poet like David Budbill. On Songs for a Suffering World (Boxholder), Parker creates evocative, even catchy settings for Budbill’s poems about life cycles and the abuses of power but always allows the text to stay in the foreground. With Hamid Drake supplying effervescent propulsion and saturated colors, Parker is able to employ a vast array of instruments, including pocket brass and indigenous percussion and flutes, to broaden the palette. Additionally, Budbill’s haunting shakuhachi thickens the ensemble sound at key points. Songs for a Suffering World is an album that requires a certain stillness to be fully absorbed.