Monday, April 4, 2016

William Parker, Stan's Hat Flapping in the Wind, 19 Songs Performed by Lisa Sokolov and Cooper-Moore

We get a special window on the more lyrical and intimate side of jazz composer and leading artist William Parker in his new CD Stan's Hat Flapping in the Wind (Centering 1012), as performed by vocalist Lisa Sokolov and pianist Cooper-Moore.

There is a fine balance on these songs between the poetic and the soulful, the reflective and the testificatory, the direct and the impressionistic, the spiritual and the it-ness of existence. There are nods, tributes to some greats now sadly gone, Mahalia, Ornette Coleman, Butch Morris, Jeanne Lee, David S. Ware, Miguel Pinero.

The music begins in effect with William's remembered images of Daniel Carter and his wife Marilyn Sontag coming towards him at Washington Square Park with Marilyn's felt hat flapping about in the wind and yet another occasion with film maker Stan Brakhage doing the same. Both were preludes and presages of artful events about to take place, and somehow the images allow and help us realize a set of characters coming "in and out singing songs that speak about dancing, singing that acknowledges the holiness of the spirit world and the acceptance of mysteries, and songs in praise of song," in William's words from the liners.

And so all 19 songs move us variously as realizations of what the spirit brings to us. The songs range from proudly declarative, pensively thoughtful, affirming and transcending resignation, on the actual and artful capturing of the reality of life and death.

Lisa Sokolov gives us a hugely soulful and dramatically alive singing of the songs. Cooper-Moore gives us a full range of  moods corresponding to the songs at hand, complementing the vocal nuances and the lyric content with a fully fleshed-out pianism.

The wealth of beauty contained in the songs defy any attempts at simplification. Each is like a spring flower, unique in itself and ultimately beyond words, yet filled with poetic saying. Blooming like a momentary impression that vividly captures all, like those hats flapping in the wind, pregnant with themselves and containing the germination of all that is, life and its finite duration and the realization of what has been in every now we are to live.

That is how I feel after hearing these 19 significant pieces of William Parker, each a part of himself yet detached and letting the wind blow through them as sound-in-air.

They have a healing quality. They need to be heard. Hear them!

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