If Charles Mingus pulling strings behind his own small groups conjures the image of a dude with a bullwhip and a mind to use it, then William Parker behind his newest quartet suggests a different image entirely. On O’Neal’s Porch, a debut recording with his new quartet, the bassist is a rock, a steady locus of sound and rhythm aware of his sonic context but absolutely sure of his own gestures. This is never more apparent than on “Leaf,” where as liner-note writer and poet David Budbill points out, Parker’s bass walks through a maelstrom of notes, in tune with the swirl of sound but confident in his own steady movement. On the rest of the album, Parker allows a heavy dose of spare, buoyant hard bop in both sound and shape, which contours the music even as the band frays the edges here and there.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.