venerdì 2 dicembre 2011

Intervista a William Parker

William Parker è il bassista più iconico della scena downtown di New York, e uno dei musicisti jazz più importanti di oggi.
Cresciuto nel Bronx negli anni '50 e '60, Parker fu esposto alla ricca cultura jazzistica della città studiando con alcuni dei più notevoli bassisti, da Jimmy Garrison a Milt Hinton e Wilbur Ware. Negli anni '70 divenne il bassista regolare nel gruppo di Cecil Taylor, guadagnandosi l'entrata nella vivace scena sperimentale. Negli anni '80, formò il formidabile gruppo collettivo Other Dimensions in Music, che comprendeva importanti componenti dell'avanguardia newyorkese, come Matthew Shipp, Roy Campbell Jr. e Daniel Carter. Ha anche co-fondato e continua ad organizzare il Vision Festival, una delle vetrine più importanti della musica improvvisata nel mondo.
Nel 2010, Parker ha fatto una registrazione molto speciale con un quartetto d'organo dedicato allo zio, Joseph Edwards.  Intitolato Uncle Joe’s Spirit House, il progetto ha segnato un nuovo tipo di esplorazione per il bassista. Il batterista dell'album è Gerald Cleaver uno dei musicisti più versatili della scena di New York. Nelle parole di Parker, Cleaver può suonare "ogni stile, ogni tipo di ritmo o di sfumature musicale, ma nonostante ciò mantiene un concetto molto originale." Il sassofonista è Darryl Foster, un veterano nel campo della R & B, che ha suonato con Sam e Dave, tra gli altri . Fu già collaboratore di Parker nel progetto Inside Sounds of Curtis Mayfield all'organo c'è Cooper-Moore, ampiamente riconosciuto come uno dei leader del jazz d'avanguardia ed abile costruttore di strumenti unici.

Il sito Capitalbop ha incontrato Parker prima di un concerto del suo quartetto d'organo ed ha pubblicato una bella intervista di cui presentiamo un estratto:
CB: Would you categorize your own musical conception as an exemplification of “Black Music”? Is that an overt theme in your music?
WP: I’ve never left anything out in the sense that when I used to go over to Europe and improvise with European improvisers like Derek Bailey, I noticed that … when they reach the idea of melody or rhythm, they alter it. They don’t use a continuous rhythm. They break up the rhythm. They break up the melody, so they have a new concept of melody. Melody is there, rhythm is there, harmony is there, all the elements are there. But they are broken up in a different way because that’s how they were hearing. So I take that concept of being able to break up melodies, break up rhythms, but I also accept melody as a magical thing. This is what Albert Ayler and Don Cherry taught me, that melody is a very important part of the healing process. A happy melody is something that you could go off singing. If you heard a melody you like, when you are feeling in a particular way and you want to alter your mood, you can hum a melody. That’s why melody is important: because it is something you can reuse and put into your life at another point. Also rhythm or any aspect of music.
All I do is look at the whole history of music, and not be afraid to use it as I liked, because it always comes out differently than it had done previously. It always works out that you hear something and say, “I like that and I’m gonna use it as a basis for something,” but when you do it, if you’re lucky enough, it will always come out differently – which is actually a gift. You hear Charlie Parker and you use it as a jump-off point to possibilities. You play this way, run over these scales, play those licks, run over these harmonies, but don’t end up sounding anything like Charlie Parker. I remember talking to a saxophonist from Chicago, Fred Anderson, who really loved Charlie Parker, [he] would listen to him everyday. But when you listen to Fred, he doesn’t sound anything like Charlie Parker, although Charlie Parker was a great inspiration to him.
CB: This is similar to the way you incorporate your influences into your own music.
WP: That was the wonderful thing about not being boxed in to playing one type of music. At one point I was playing with the drummer Sunny Murray, then I would play with Rashied Ali and the singer Maxine Sullivan all at the same time. Then I was the house bassist at a club in the Bronx called the Salt and Pepper, where I played bebop. I worked with a guy named Louis McMillan, who is a ventriloquist, and we had a comedy act with a dummy. I was doing all this at the same time. If you followed me during these days, you’d see I was working with poets, with dancers. It just opened me up to realize that it wasn’t so much about the style, it was about the sound, tone. Equal music. It wasn’t about “now I’m going to play bebop, now I’m going to play swing, now I’m going to play Latin, now I’m going to play ‘free’ or some other name for that music.” That really helped me.
Then when I met the European improvisers, Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald. They were doing something different. So I was able to go into that world without blinking an eye. Then you come back and you aren’t prejudiced to any kind of music. Then when you are tired and you want to listen to Marvin Gaye, some soul, you can listen to John Cage, you can listen to anything you want to listen to and its fine. But if you put it a box in and say, “Well, bebop is the only music that is valid, if you don’t play bebop I can’t use it,” it’s like saying, “People from Texas are the only people that are valid, if you aren’t from Texas I don’t want anything to do with it.” Because music is like people. It is a living thing and has a living personality. So I am not really prejudiced to any particular kind of music.
Now, as I tell my students, we come out of musical clans. Like the Hopi Indians, they have clans. We as musicians come out of clans too. There are certain musicians who love melody. Johnny Hodges was always connected to the melody, so he was coming out of the melodic family. There are other people who love to play rhythm all the time. They like to play a certain way on the drums. There are people who play fast, there are people play slow. That’s fine, because that’s a preference. But it doesn’t have anything to do with what style you are playing in, just how you play your instrument. There are all kinds of possibilities – and this is wonderful because it doesn’t leave anybody out. No matter what kind of personality you have or your likes in music, there’s always a place for you to be comfortable playing something and finding your voice and sound. 
(leggi l'intervista integrale sul sito originario).

Ecco un video del William Parker Ensemble play Curtis Mayfield che presenta Move On Up,  registrato al Teatro Manzoni di Milano il 20 gennaio 2008:

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