William Parker


The year’s been plenty good for free jazz as it is, but this one might come at the pinnacle. Arriving at the crossroads of psych-scooped brain fry and body high jazz thrum, the combo finds William Parker leading a trio that pulls the seams tight between Sharrock, Santana, Haino and Akiyama. While Parker’s rhythm tangles expertly with Gerald Cleaver, the real hook here is the ozone-crisp guitar from Ava Mendoza. Over the chopped waves of bass and drums she disappears into headspace, sometimes riding the crest below her, but often as not, slicing pieces from the sky. Mendoza’s playing moves from sheets of metal thunder to nimble cosmic weaving, raining down on the album in acidic droplets.

While her playing is certainly the hook here, its obviously Parker’s show, and his guiding hand moves the album with a precise tiller. Bowed or plucked his bass work vibrates the humors of the body, nourishing the neurons while Cleaver carves rhythms out of abstract space — a lyrical player whose sense of pacing never dominates, but never underplays. Sawing the set into fantastical shapes, Cleaver plays like he’s carving delicate ice sculptures with a chainsaw. Honestly, this isn’t an album I’d ever have expected out of Parker, but after one dose of Mayan Space Station, I’m setting hopes that the trio’s energy wasn’t all devoured in this set. The vitality of their energy feels boundless. Let’s hope its also endless.

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