Bassist William Parker to Release Two New Albums

These Releases Coincide with William Parker LifeTime Achievement Celebration at Vision Festival 2024 on June 18

Bassist William Parker to Release Two New Albums

These Releases Coincide with William Parker LifeTime Achievement Celebration at Vision Festival 2024 on June 18

Photo by Anna Yatskevich

On June 21, AUM Fidelity will release two new and distinct album works by William Parker, each as full of beauty and truth as ever. They will be made available on CD, digital, and in limited LP editions. Cereal Music is Parker’s first spoken word album, with sound design by producer/singer Ellen Christi. Heart Trio is a centering / balancing music album created together with long-time compatriots Cooper-Moore & Hamid Drake.

On June 18, William Parker will be celebrated for his LifeTime of Achievement at Vision Festival 2024. This opening night of the festival will feature performances by Parker and his compositions in a number of ensemble settings, tellingly of either all-new work or great recent vintage. The full program of this night is still in process of finalization, but will be posted soon. The entire Festival will take place June 18–23.

Vision Festival was launched in 1996 as an essential annual showcase for creative music – presenting in focused real time whole chapters of human music theretofore insufficiently charted in the annals of history. William Parker’s music & spirit has always been a key component thereof. He has been an ever-present pillar of inspiration for numerous generations of creative music now – practitioners and listeners alike – beginning on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 70s, and then spanning the globe. We imagine that the main reason this long-standing annual Vision accolade has not previously been bestowed upon him is because William and festival founder/director Patricia Nicholson are married (49 years this May!). But now, at 72 years of age – still keeping an exceptional creative pace though inescapably on the same mortal clock as we all are – it is finally time.

AUM Fidelity was launched by producer Steven Joerg in 1997; William Parker’s work and the ethos he characterized was a foundational inspiration. The thorough commitment to create this new recording label coincided with William’s desire to begin focusing energies on his own work as a composer-leader. AUM has been a principal source of Parker’s now profound body of work on record ever since. Far-ranging in form, and vast in scope, over 50 William Parker albums as a leader or co-leader have been produced by AUM Fidelity or in tandem with him for his own Centering Records imprint since our launch. Many of them have been received as masterworks. All of them are suffused with a devotion to the healing properties of organized sound. A detailed discography is included below.

To the present moment.. Heart Trio features three lifelong devoted fellow travelers on the path of healing through sound and performance. William has performed and recorded extensively with both Cooper-Moore & Hamid Drake over the past three+ decades. And, the three of them have played together since 2012 in Parker’s re-born In Order To Survive quartet. Heart Trio is, remarkably, their debut as a trio on record. William here plays doson ngoni, dudek, and flutes of bamboo, cedar & walnut. Cooper-Moore on his hand-crafted ashimba and harp; Hamid Drake on frame drum and a small drum kit. All of this music was collectively composed at the time of its creation.

Some time ago, I recall Hamid marveling at how William could pick up seemingly any instrument & play music upon it. The flutes & ngoni which Parker performs on here, he has been playing music on for many, many years. Same with Cooper-Moore – he built the instruments he plays here in the 1970s. Suffice to say, each of these men are long-time master musicians & and non-stop practitioners of creative music.

Heart Trio creates balancing music in a world which day to day is more evidently filled with the exponential effect of increasingly grotesque inequity, a world where wars continue to be started and maintained by men adept at manipulation and a thorough disregard for the sanctity of life. Heart Trio creates organic music played on organic materials in a world of exponentially accelerating “technologies” whose primary stock-in-trade is to transform each of us into more readily exploitable data sets. Data sets which we do not own, rendering the very notion of self-sovereignty moot. These advanced technologies are also expertly used to build more efficient weapons of war, and allow a handful of multi-billionaires to dream of populating.. Mars? ..with said “dreamers” lording roosts with breathtaking vistas here on majestic parcels of still livable Earth. The rest of us certainly do live in dangerous times.

Yes, Heart Trio creates balancing music, antithetical to destruction. Music to draw sustenance from. Some measure of fortitude, at least, for compassionate souls in the elevating struggle against increasingly inextricable imposed realities that parse a human being’s value solely on what they are able to consume.

This is music for sunrise and sunset. Daily music. Healing, centering, heart music. From William’s notes included with the release:

“The theory behind this music is the music itself. Empty and fill the heart and soul with sound, letting it dance. Without pretense. We are trying to get to a flow—Earth, sky, and flowing water sounds that jump out of the painting.

“Birds listening and responding, lifting the croker sack onto the wagon
brothers on an organic farm planting sounds that will grow and vibrate
vibration calling conversation.
The story, the plot is, life is beautiful. Must be to be life.
War is death fueled by hate. How do we stop war? Never start one.”

Cereal Music is William Parker’s first spoken word album – poetry and observations from a profound life devoted to the path of finding truth in beauty and speaking truth to power. Parker’s words are further illuminated by deeply sensitive sound design created by an equally long-time compatriot on the same path, producer and singer Ellen Christi.

The music of William Parker –in all of its vast scope and range of form– has been an elemental nutrient of my listening life for 30 years. William’s words –whether published on page or spoken from the stage, in interviews or personal conversation– are a part of that music. They speak on the beauty of life itself, exhorting us to be fully alive to live this precious gift we’ve been granted. Compassion is always at core, amplifying the light of life ever-present, even in exceptionally difficult circumstance. Writing was William’s first artistic expression; he began as a young person growing up in the South Bronx projects, first presenting an alternate perception of often bleak surroundings and living conditions in the neighborhood. This early awareness that there was another way of seeing the world, of beingin the world, suffused his development as a singularly generous artist and human being.

Ellen Christi’s singing brings joy; that same affirmation in the beauty of life. The Majesty of Jah [an album released as part of William’s 10-album box set, Migration of Silence Into and Out of The Tone World] is a wonderful feature for her voice. That album also included the track, “Baldwin”, an immediately gripping and affecting piece; James Baldwin’s powerful words and voice resonating even more profoundly within the sonic architecture created around them. That track was produced by Ellen. It was the first I knew of her work as a sound designer/producer. When Ellen called to tell me she had begun work on a similar album-length project, centered on William’s spoken texts, I immediately asked that she please send me the pieces as she finished them. And on my hearing, I was deeply moved again, and again.. Blessings on the creators. May light love and wisdom always be strong.
–Steven Joerg, AUM Fidelity

On the Cereal Music CD/digital Bonus Tracks: “Batala” & “Windshield Wipers” are from the same sessions but not included in the final sequence, as created for the LP edition. “Prayer” is a composition by William which first appeared on his Corn Meal Dance album. Ellen had long wanted to arrange and record her own version of this beautiful song, and she completed it just in time to be included here. I am very happy that she did!

The cover painting, and additional paintings on the Cereal Music package, are by William Parker.

The cover drawing featured on Heart Trio was made by my son Matteus Joerg when he was in kindergarten. May elementary schools always have healthy arts programs.

Bass Magazine   By: Bass Magazine