William Parker is a master musician, improviser, and composer. He plays the bass, shakuhachi, double reeds, tuba, donso ngoni and gembri. He was born in 1952 in the Bronx, New York. He studied bass with Richard Davis, Art Davis, Milt Hinton, Wilber Ware, and Jimmy Garrison. He entered the music scene in 1971 playing at Studio We, Studio Rivbea, Hilly’s on The Bowery and The Baby Grand, playing with many musicians on the avant-garde school Bill Dixon, Sunny Murray, Charles Tyler, Billy Higgins, Charles Brackeem, Alan Silva, Frank Wright, Frank Lowe, Rashid Ali, Donald Ayler, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Milford Graves and with traditionalists like Walter Bishop, Sr. and Maxine Sullivan. Early projects with dancer and choreographer Patricia Nicholson created a huge repertoire of composed music for multiple ensembles ranging from solo works to big band projects. Parker played in the Cecil Taylor unit from 1980 through 1991. He also developed a strong relationship with the European Improvised Music scene playing with musicians such as Peter Kowald, Peter Brotzmann, Han Bennink, Tony Oxley, Derek Bailey, Louis Sclavis, and Louis Moholo. He began recording in 1994 and leading his own bands on a regular basis founding two ensembles, In Order To Survive, and The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. In 2001, Parker released O’Neal’s Porch, which marked a turn toward a more universal sound working with drummer Hamid Drake. The Raining on the Moon Quintet followed, adding vocalist Leena Conquest and the Quartet from O’Neal’s Porch. Most notable among many recent projects is the Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield. He has taught at Bennington College, NYU, The New England Conservatory of Music, Cal Arts, New School University and Rotterdam Conservatory of Music. He has also taught music workshops throughout the world including Paris, Berlin and Tokyo and the Lower East Side. Parker is also a theorist and author of several books including the Sound Journal, Document Humanum, Music and the Shadow People and The Mayor of Punkville. As Steve Greenlee of the Boston Globe stated in July 2002, “William Parker has emerged as the most important leader of the current avant-garde scene in jazz.” He is working in many of the more important groups in this genre, some of the most prestigious being his own, i.e. The Curtis Mayfield Project, Little Huey Creative Orchestra, In Order to Survive, William Parker’s Quartet and other groups. Mr. Parker is one of the most important composers in our time period, he is also a poet whose words are beginning to be heard in various media: in print, in song and in his theatre piece, “Music and the Shadow People.”
In ’95 the Village Voice characterized William Parker as “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time.” However from the beginning of his career Mr. Parker has commanded a unique degree of respect from fellow musicians. In 1972 at the age of 20, Parker quickly became the bass player of choice among his peers. Within a short time he was asked to play with older, established musicians such as Ed Blackwell, Don Cherry, Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, Billy Higgins, Sunny Murray, etc. In 1980 he became a member of the Cecil Taylor Unit, in which he played a prominent role for over a decade.
Mr. Parker has released over 20 albums under his leadership. Not surprisingly, most of his albums have hit #1 on the CMJ charts. In 1995 after years of obscurity as a leader, he released Flowers Grow In My Room, on the Centering label. This was the first documentation of the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. This CD hit #1 on the CMJ charts and The Little Huey began to travel. They have performed in the Verona Jazz Festival and Banlieues Bleues among others. William Parker’s new Quartet has hit with rave reviews for both albums “O’Neals Porch” and “Raining on the Moon.”
These releases and their success highlight William Parker as an outstanding composer and band leader. From the beginning of his musical career, William Parker has been prolific; composing music for almost every group with whom he has performed. His compositional skills span a range including operas, oratorios, ballets, film scores, and soliloquies for solo instruments. He has also successfully explored diverse concepts in instrumentation for large and small ensembles. William Parker is a poet, with three volumes published thus far: “Music Is,” “Document Humanum,” and “The Shadow People.”
“He (William Parker) is something of a father figure” stated Larry Blumenfeld in a New York Times article this past May. He has looked for and encouraged young talent and has been a mentor to some of the younger musicians. Most importantly, for Mr. Parker has been the workshops/ performances for young people that he has conducted, both in the USA and in Europe. This has been for him amongst some of his most important work and greatest successes.”
Hamide Drake by the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free jazz improvisers Peter Brotzmann, Fred Anderson, and Ken Vandermark, among others. Drake was born in Monroe, LA, in 1955, and later moved to Chicago with his family. He ended up taking drum lessons with Fred Anderson’s son, eventually taking over the son’s role as percussionist in Anderson’s group. As a result, Fred Anderson also introduced Drake to George Lewis and other AACM members. Drake also has performed a wide range of world music; by the late ’70s, he was a member of Foday Muso Suso’s Mandingo Griot Society and he has played reggae music extensively. Drake has been a member of the Latin jazz band Night on Earth, the Georg Graewe Quartet, the DKV Trio, Peter Brotzmann’s Chicago Octet/Tentet, and Liof Munimula, the oldest free improvising ensemble in Chicago. Drake has also worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Mahmoud Gania, bassist William Parker (in a large number of lineups), and has performed a solstice celebration with fellow Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang semiannually since 1991. Hamid Drake recorded material is best represented on Chicago’s Okkadisk label.
Rob Brown – Rob was born in Hampton, VA in 1962. He has been playing the saxophone since the age of 11. He moved to NY in 1984, and since then has been actively leading groups or working as a sideman with Matthew Shipp, Wiliiam Parker, Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver, Daniel Levin, Joe Morris, Whit Dickey.
Others that Rob has performed and/or recorded with include Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Denis Charles, Bill Dixon, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman, Henry Grimes, Roy Campbell Jr., Hamid Drake and Fred Hopkins, as well as various dance groups, poets, and performance artists. He has toured Europe extensively. He is a 2001 CalArts/Alpert/Ucross Residency Prize winner and has received many Meet The Composer Fund grants. In 2006 Rob was awarded a Chamber Music America New Works grant.
Steve Swell Born in Newark, NJ, Steve Swell has been an active member of the NYC music community since 1975. He has toured and recorded with many artists from mainstreamers such as Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich to so called outsiders as Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor and William Parker. He has over 40 CDs as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artists on more than 100 other releases. He runs workshops around the world and is a teaching artist in the NYC public school system focusing on special needs children.
Swell has worked on music transcriptions of the Bosavi tribe of New Guinea for MacArthur fellow, Steve Feld in 2000. His CD, “Suite For Players, Listeners and Other Dreamers” (CIMP) ranked number 2 in the 2004 Cadence Readers Poll. He has also received grants from USArtists International in 2006, MCAF (LMCC) awards in 2008 and 2013 and has been commissioned twice on the Interpretations Series at Merkin Hall in 2006 and at Roulette in 2012.
Steve was nominated for Trombonist of the Year 2008 & 2011 by the Jazz Journalists Association, was selected Trombonist of the Year 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 by the magazine El Intruso of Argentina and received the 2008 Jubilation Foundation Fellowship Award of the Tides Foundation. Steve has also been selected by the Downbeat Critics Poll in the Trombone category from 2010-2014.
Steve is presently a teaching artist through the American Composers Orchestra, Healing Arts Initiative , Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center (Bronx), the Jazz Foundation of America and Leman Manhattan Preparatory School.
Steve was also awarded the 2014 Creative Curricula grant (LMCC) for the project: “Metamorphoses: Modern Mythology in Sound and Words” which was taught in a month long residency at Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan.
Cooper Moore As a composer, performer, instrument builder/designer, storyteller, teacher, mentor, and organizer, Cooper-Moore has been a major, if somewhat behind-the-scenes, catalyst in the world of creative music for over 30 years. As a child prodigy Cooper-Moore played piano in churches near his birthplace in the Piedmont region of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. His performance roots in the realm of avant jazz music date to the NYC Loft Jazz era in the early/mid-70s. His first fully committed jazz group was formed in 1970 – the collective trio Apogee with David S. Ware and drummer Marc Edwards. Sonny Rollins asked them to open for him at the Village Vanguard in 1973, and they did so with aplomb. A studio recording of this group was made in 1977, and issued as Birth of a Being on hatHut under Ware’s name in 1979 (re-mixed and re-issued in expanded form on AUM Fidelity in 2015!). Following an evidently rather trying European tour with Ware, Beaver Harris, and Brian Smith in 1981, Cooper-Moore returned home and completely destroyed his piano, with sledgehammer and fire, in his backyard. He didn’t play piano again until some years after, instead focusing his energies from 1981-1985 on developing and implementing curriculum to teach children through music via the Head Start program. Returning to New York in 1985, he spent a great part of his creative time working and performing with theatre and dance productions, largely utilizing his hand-crafted instruments. It was not until the early 90s, when William Parker asked him to join his group In Order To Survive, that Cooper-Moore’s pianistic gifts were again regularly featured in the jazz context. In the early ‘aughts the group Triptych Myth was his own first regular working jazz group in decades and together they blazed some trails (may again!) and released two albums; one rich formative, and one exquisite. Cooper-Moore’s creative life continues well-strong and unabated into the present day. -SJ
William Parker (bass), Mixashawn Lee Rozie (percussion & tenor saxophone), Rob Brown (alto Sax), Steve Swell (trombone), Cooper Moore (piano), Hamid Drake (drums)