Reviews - WILLIAM PARKER & The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra ..Sunrise In The Tone World (AUM002/3)
JAZZIZ, Lead Review (full review below)
"The dream is always the same. Those of us who see jazz as a democracy in one of its purest forms will always harbor a soft spot for big bands. There's something about a large ensemble's bearing, about the obvious care that goes into launching a good one, as well as the dynamic, yet gingerly plotted music that emanates from the push-pull of brass against reeds and melody against rhythm, all on an expanded scale. Such groups also provide one of the jazz idiom's most awe-inspiring spectacles, allowing us to witness how remarkable cohesion can emerge from what could easily amount to mere fury. In the case of New York-based bassist William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, one might take all of the above impulses and multiply them by about 1,000. LIttle Huey is the big soulful megillah; its gloriousness is a true marvel of painstaking thought into action." - K. Leander Williams

"My only reason to play music was the idea that music could save the world, it could change people's lives." - William Parker from feature article in MAGNET

ALTERNATIVE PRESS
"There was a time when music could be spoken of as more than a mere art form. Whether striving to express sprituality, to urge community or to effect social change, musicians viewed their work as something more than that of mere entertainment. This may seem like ancient history now, with music so rarely more than a means to self-gratificiation, but William Parker hasn't forgotten, and his massive Little Huey CMO just may win listeners back to his thinking. It's witty and moving, jubilant and provocative, taking the listener inside himself in contemplation, then lifting him outside to release." -David Reitzes

HALANA
"It is music which teaches love, compassion, and life. That is his compositional genius. It is beyond social experiment. Mr. Parker has harnessed the vitality and creative energy of the men and women in his band and created a thing of Freedom and Beauty. It grooves and flows, tension and release, light and heat. And like any great great piece of art, there's not much to say afterward but, "how the hell did he DO that?!"
-Ian Nagoski

YOUR FLESH
"Suffice to say, this double CD is the absolute bomb." -Tad Hendrickson

SOUND VIEWS
"Deep enough to sink into, so vivid it feels like a long soak in an otherness you won't find twice." -Jonathan Dixon

THE GLOBE AND MAIL (Canada)
"A passionate mediation on life, survival and creativity. 4-STARS" -Mark Miller

OPPROBRIUM
"A landmark of collective playing that over two sprinting hours evokes the theater of Charles Mingus, the gypsy carnival of Sun Ra, and the tribal dance of the Art Ensemble." -Marc Masters

BOSTON PHOENIX
"If the Sun Ra Arkestra have a successor, then Little Huey is it. This is a gloriously life-affirming band, balancing individual freedom with cooperative playing in some of the most riveting new music coming out of New York." -Ed Hazell

YOUR FLESH
"I'd keep a copy of this full-spectrum fountain of ecstatic sound selection in your breast pocket for every time you run into one of those rack-mount keyboard knowledgeables who swears up and down that by 2005 all music will be written and played by machines." -Glen Galaxy

"One Of The Top Releases of 1997" -THE WIRE
"4-STAR LEAD REVIEW" -DOWNBEAT
"#1 Jazz Chart" -CMJ

JAZZIZ * December 1997 / Lead review by K. Leander Williams
The dream is always the same. Those of us who see jazz as democracy in one of its purest forms will always harbor a soft spot for big bands. There's something about a large ensemble's bearing, about the obvious care that goes into launching a good one, as well as the dynamic, yet gingerly plotted music that emanates from the push-pull of brass against reeds and melody agamst rhythm, all on an expanded scale. Such groups also provide one of the jazz idiom's most awe-inspiring spectacles, allowing us to witness how remarkable cohesion can emerge from what could easily amount to mere fury.

In the case of New York-based bassist William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, one might take all of the above impulses and multiply them by about 1,000. On paper, the Little Huey Orchestra has all the components of your average large amalgam: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, a rhythm section and even a vocalist. But Parker, who spent just over a decade in the Cecil Taylor Unit and is now best known for his work with tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and pianist Matthew Shipp, stretches the limits of the format by fitting dense, bristling, adventurously improvised music to a scale not generally associated with it. There have been several instances when the big-band ethos has embraced what New Yorkers like to call the 'downtown' aesthetic (Taylor has tried it, as have David Murray, Butch Morris, Germany's Georg Graewe, Denmark's Pierre Dorge, and Austria's Mathias Ruegg), but at 25 pieces and counting, Little Huey is the big soulful megillah, its gloriousness is a true marvel of painstaking thought into action.

That's why it's so much fun listening to the orchestra's new live double CD, Sunrise in the Tone World. The two CDs represent a startling advance from the group's first effort, Flowers Grow in My Room, on one hand because of better audio, and on the other because the bassist seems to have rid the band of unwieldiness. It's no easy feat keeping a band of this size locked into a groove, especially when a blistering track like 'The Bluest J,' for example, can last close to half an hour. How does a bandleader maintain a musics center while plying malleable textures and blaring polyphonic intensity? Not too surprisingly, Sunrise was recorded during a two-month period when the Little Hueys had set up shop at the Knitting Factory.

Parker likes to keep his compositions simple. According to his liner notes, the shuffling 'Sunship for Dexter' is the only tune with a preset chord sequence. And pianist Cooper-Moore comps its ingenious intervals into a swinging style that has as much to do with Sun Ra as it does with the tune's namesake, Dexter Gordon. (In 'Mayan Space Station,' another Ra-esque vehicle, vibist Gregg Bendian fills in the gaps.) One of the miracles of the orchestra is that each member is adept at the logic of free jazz, so at no time does the plethora of voices resemble idle chatter. The title track, for instance, is a vamp-till-ready showcase that chugs along on the strength of cross-hatched horn lines, an oom-pah variation from tubist Dave Hofstra, and drummer Susie Ibarra's dancing hi-hat. Even as the whole band chimes in, alto soloist Rob Brown's outlined angularity retains the foreground.

Of course, the beauty is in the sonic details. 'The Poet and the Painter,' the set-closing feature for alto (Marco Eneidi) and vibes (Bendian), personifies passion. Meanwhile, at the onset of the fantastic 40-minute marathon, 'Huey Sees Light Though a Leaf,' Parker, bass-second Hal Onserud, and lbarra lock into an uptempo skitter underneath a wondrously pixieish dance of flute, oboe, and soprano sax. Unlike the other pieces, where solo space is carefully allotted, this track embodies what Parker likes to call 'collective improvisation.' Listening to their suite-like tug of war is enough to make you think you've stepped into a shared dream.

PoK MAGAZINE Review by Steve Brydges
This music is about freedom, of freedom and for freedom. Freedom from the binds of oppressive mentalities that tell us not to dream. Freedom from those that would prefer us to paint our lives in indistinctive grays. Under bassist William Parker's guidance, the Orchestra creates a rousing cacophony that explodes with colorful sounds. Uniquely layered with 3 trombones, 3 trumpets, 7 saxophones, tuba, cello, two basses, vibes, piano, and percussion, the open-ended pieces allow each player freedom to solo, to add their distinctive swatch of color to the broad canvas. Bright copper hues bathe the pieces as the polished brass turns tones into colors. The impressive swing of the brass and rhythm sections provide chin-nodding beats that clasp together the paintings at their seams. On some pieces, percussive clatter replaces the catchy swing, and the rhythm becomes difficult to follow. All the while, solos rush through, spinning, twirling, charging, plodding, and always dancing, alive with spirits afire and hope gushing from their instruments. Rarely has humanity been so well served.