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Bright Moments with William Parker

A prime mover of the avant-garde selects highlights from his vast discography

William Parker
William Parker (photo: Peter Gannushkin)

To work on an installment of Bright Moments featuring the bassist and composer William Parker can feel like an exercise in futility. But not because he’s uncooperative or vague. In his cozy East Village apartment in January, Parker, 67, proved an exceedingly kind and gentle presence and a strikingly thoughtful interview. Storytelling is yet another of his gifts, and his recall borders on the encyclopedic; circumstances and chronology come easy, as do the Manhattan cross streets for apartments and venues that haven’t existed in decades.

Rather, the Bright Moments concept bows under the weight of Parker’s tremendous oeuvre. This is an artist who seems to offer up multi-disc box sets more frequently than others put out albums, and whose Sessionography, helmed by Rick Lopez and released in 2014, runs nearly 500 pages. Within these leader recordings and collaborations is a staggering range of creative situations—from solo recitals to duos to small-group free improvisation, era-defining working bands and sprawling thematic projects for large ensemble and voices.

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Originally Published

Evan Haga

Evan Haga worked as an editor and writer at JazzTimes from 2006 to 2018. He is currently the Jazz Curator at TIDAL, and his writing has appeared at RollingStone.com, NPR MusicBillboard and other outlets.