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William Parker and Hamid Drake: Heart and Soul

Members of renowned rhythm section share common musical language and creative aesthetic

William Parker
Hamid Drake
Hamid Drake

The producer of the Magic Triangle Series at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Glenn Siegel asked the renowned rhythm section of William Parker and Hamid Drake to curate all three concerts of the annual series. Siegel suggested other American musicians to work with them, but the two decided, according to William Parker “to create a reciprocal feeling” where Europeans could be invited to America instead of Americans going to Europe, which they do all the time. The first concert featured the trombonist Conrad Bauer from Germany; the last concert, saxophonist Evan Parker from England. William Parker’s Raining on The Moon Ensemble filled the middle, with multi-ethnicity, multi-culturalism, poetry, implied political statement, singing, dancing and the joy inherent in Parker’s groups.

Bassist Parker is a native of the Bronx. He knows his extended neighborhood inside and out, both literally and metaphorically. It is the source from which he draws his colorful compendium of spoken and musical language. He speaks with a gravelly voice, every, often humorous, utterance having a meaning that is far from shallow. He dresses in garb reflective of his African heritage, both in performance or for a casual meeting. Drummer Drake was born in Louisiana and migrated in his youth to Chicago. In Chicago, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson became his paternal mentor and presently remains so. A dedicated Yogic practitioner, Drake perceives the world spiritually in every way. On the day of the interview, he dressed simply in black; he donned prayer beads on his wrist and wore a silk embroidered hat atop dreadlocks which have grown the length of his back. His voice is soft; his words are leavened with happiness.

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