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William Parker/Raining on the Moon: Great Spirit

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When bassist William Parker’s group Raining on the Moon released its 2007 album Corn Meal Dance, the sextet left another album’s worth of material on the table. Parker had considered issuing a two-disc album at the time but ultimately went with one. Eight years later, on Great Spirit, we get the rest of the session. This music could easily have been plucked first.

This is a funky, swinging, soulful band that lifts the soul. Parker, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, trumpeter Lewis Barnes, pianist Eri Yamamoto and drummer Hamid Drake may create the music, but singer Leena Conquest (why isn’t she better known?) is the band’s center. Her rich, soothing and bluesy vocals, delivering lyrics that are both spiritual and socially conscious, keep the musicians rooted in song, even when the tracks stretch out toward 10 minutes. “Bowl of Stone Around the Sun,” “Doson Ngoni Blues” and the beautiful title cut are the kinds of soul-stirring blues-derived pieces we’ve come to expect from ROTM, but they are fresh and inspired nonetheless.

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