Reviews – WILLIAM PARKER ..Corn Meal Dance ...(AUM043)

BOSTON GLOBE So good they did it again
"The music is both fascinating and spiritually lifting; everybody works in tandem, and yet things fly off the shelf when Parker's tight folk-jazz melodies evolve into all-out free exchanges. The poem-form stories burn images in the mind. Unexpected beauty and tenderness arrive in an ode to the poet June Jordan, performed as a voice-piano duet. It sends shivers." - Steve Greenlee


“In suggesting an alternate past, where Nina Simone jammed with John Coltrane, Parker finds another future.” - Stewart Lee


".. the songs are predominately blues-based and the themes move with an elliptical, subtle beauty, sometimes making very few chords go a long way." - Kevin Le Gendre

"Corn Meal Dance, as well as cooking up nine sonic journeys of liberating musical breadth, also offers brain food in poetically epic portions." - Corey Frye

"This sounds like the work of a well-integrated group, with Yamamoto's supple voicings [on piano] providing a lush bed over which Conquest inhabits Parker's lyrics with dramatic delivery. The horns react and accent until unleashed in the solo sections--Brown's bracing alto well tempered by Barnes' more subdued and solemn trumpet. Parker and Drake are unparalleled as a rhythm section, and their intuitive adaptability offers the bassist the ability to pull the strings on the group with understated force." - Shaun Brady

This is essentially 'The William Parker Songbook', with eight of the nine tracks featuring words and music by Parker, performed by his vocalist of choice, Leena Conquest. Her vocal style is soulful without being self-conscious, while Parker inspires the ensemble from within, recognizing that now isn't the time nor the place for extended bass solos. The high point of the album is the title track with its ecstatic pick-me-up harmonies acting as a catalyst for a solo of magisterial grandeur from alto saxophonist Rob Brown. Pianist Eri Yamamoto lays down fulsome hymnal harmonies on "Prayer", and Parker's allusive wordplays repay repeated attention. Another perspective on the great man's work.” - Philip Clark

Corn Meal Dance is a thrilling ride that hugs the precipices between flaming grooves, zero-gravity free jazz, and gospel-tinged social consciousness.” - Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

“Blending yearning gospel moods, somber ballads, folksy protest songs and modally charged excursions, Corn Meal Dance is one of William Parker's most accessible efforts.” - Troy Collins

OFFBEAT (New Orleans)
“Parker is an excellent composer. His searching intelligence along with his ear for harmony and melodies makes him a worthy heir to Charles Mingus. The songs Parker writes for Corn Meal Dance are surprisingly accessible, sounding more fully formed than most original jazz compositions.” - Todd A. Price

"Despite occasional flares of dissonance, this is one of Parker’s more accessible outings, grounded in patient blues and gospel rhythms and other standard forms — “Poem for June Jordan” wouldn’t be out of place in a Broadway musical. All the better to hear and appreciate the history lesson of “Land Song,” or the literally wonderful wordplay and soaring sentiment of the title track. Its bucolic refrain serves as [a] pretty fair description of Parker’s restless muse and stentorian bass work.” - Britt Robson

 and from someone who bought the album:
this Dance is a rag doll filled with sunlight
By Pharoah S. Wail (Indiana) AMAZON.COM customer review
“With Leena Conquest singing and Eri Yamamoto on piano, this augmented William Parker Quartet becomes universal elevation of consciousness turned into sound and song. Where Raining on the Moon (another favorite of mine, with 1 song that haunts me) had Leena on most songs, Corn Meal Dance has her on every track. There are times she'll sing/say a phrase and it hits me like The Truth. A Law. Something that just IS, or should be. Eri is a beautiful player. She completely understands and completes this side of William. There's nothing here I dislike but “Tutsi Orphans” and “Soledad” melt me. This band is love, compassion and hope as sound. If you can get through this album a few times without shedding any tears, you're either a stronger or weaker person than me. I'm not sure which. The world needs this music. William's melodies work perfectly with his poems/lyrics. This is my favorite WP Quartet-related album yet. He is tapped in. This album is magical. I feel blessed just to know it. Thank you Leena, Eri, Rob, Lewis, Hamid and the portal through which this all flows, William.”

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