WILLIAM PARKER — Voices Fall From The Sky (review)

WILLIAM PARKER — Voices Fall From The Sky album cover Album · 2018 · Vocal Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Voices Fall From The Sky" is an unusual album even for bassist and composer William Parker who's music is always way unpredictable. And not because it is a massive three-CD set - Parker often uses similar format for his releases in new millennium. Simply, it is a vocal album. Parker often uses vocalists for some his projects, but songs with vocal usually take smaller part of the album, if at all. And here we have three-CD set exclusively dedicated to vocalists!

Not all music here is jazz and far not all material is new as well. First disc in a set, titled same as whole release - "Voices Fall From The Sky" - is a new recording with only a short opener coming from Parker's 2006 album "Long Hidden: The Olmec Series". It contains predominantly duos or small combos playing avant-garde ballads (jazz and non-jazz) sung by ten different female and male singers, one or two per piece). It works quite well and recalls Ran Blake recordings with Jeannie Lee."We Often Danced" with Fay Victor is a peak. On this part, Parker himself plays on five songs only (all but one - bass, and ngoni on "Airlift").

Disc 2 titled simply "Songs" contains lot of previously released material. Only four songs have been previously unreleased and are material from the vault (recorded in 1991 and 1993). All them are minimalist duets of William Parker on bass or Japanese pianist Yuko Fujiyama with singers Lisa Sokolov or Ellen Christi. All but one rest songs on this CD are duets as well, piano or bass plus singer, all comes from already released albums. Parker is an only bassist, but we can hear two more pianist - another Japanese Eri Yamamoto and Parker's regular collaborator Cooper-Moore changing each other. Well known from other Parker projects singer Leena Conquest is added on the vocalists list (beside of lesser known Senegalese Mola Sylla). Predominantly dark bare-naked minimalist ballads continue the spirit and atmosphere of the first set's CD. Part are jazzy, others - more camber/non-jazz avant-garde.

CD 3 opens with live big-band version of "The Essence Of Ellington" with Ernie Odoom on vocals, recorded live in Italy in 2012 and already released on Parker's "Essence Of Ellington" same year. It continues with "Lights Of Lake George" sung by Indian classical vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay and supported by same Parker's Orchestra (already released in 2008 on "Double Sunrise Over Neptune"). Deep sultry Leena Conquest voice is easy recognizable on perfect but already heard "For Fannie Lou Hamer"(from "For Those Who Are, Still",2015). "Deep Flower" is groovy composition with recitative vocals coming from obscure "Wood Flute Songs. Anthology / Live 2006-2012"(2013).

What comes after is probably a biggest surprise of whole release. Parker's composed four-part avant-garde jazz suite of sort, performed by trio of already mentioned above Japanese pianist Eri Yamamoto,Estonian drummer Leonid Galaganov and Afro-American mezzo-soprano AnnMarie Sandy combines avant-garde minimalist piano-drums duo with operatic vocals. It is a new material, released for the first time here, it not always works but at the same time it is the music which attracts the attention for sure.

Whole set closes with beautiful "Natasha's Theme" from "Alphaville Suite, Music Inspired By The Jean Luc Godard Film", a Parker's album released in 2007 on French Rogueart Jazz label.

A mixed bag, this album contains a lot of great music and some interesting music, but cleaned from reissues and edited till more listenable size of single CD, it could be an another Parker's strong release. Still worth listening for sure, at least for recordings one can't find on any other Parker's album.
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