The Blue Series on Thirsty Ear continues with SCRAPBOOK from the William Parker Violin Trio that includes Billy Bang on violin and Hamid Drake on drums. This recording alone turns the blue of the Blue Series royal purple, given its richness, fervor and exquisite jewel like quality.
Few recordings capture my senses like SCRAPBOOK does. The intelligence with which the mere six tracks are structured is such that the idea of tracks disappears and the recording becomes one symphony of the evolution of a six-note violin theme. No musician becomes any less important than another in contributing to the diversified surface of the music. Bang becomes a hinge on which the surface is laid out; yet, this is too obvious an observation. Bang carries a sound that seems to predominate but which becomes integral to the trio and not the lead. Paying attention to the way in which Parker secures the reins with his loose reverberant bass strings and Drake invaluably translates strong string content into a first position line of percussion heightens my appreciation of the thoroughly gutsy genius of the three musicians.
This recording makes me aware of time and the potential methods of dividing it up. These variations not only have to do with thematic changes which are blatantly noticeable because of their clarity, but also the timbral switches within the musical line of one instrument or within how all relate to the others. The complementary nature of what each member of the trio does in response to the other and most importantly the unadulterated procedure of moving from one groove to another and one extremity of pitch to another endows this recording with a sparkling dynamic.
The stories told herein begin brightly and branch off into truly comprehensible, yet sensible, abstractions. As the antidote to those abstractions is the sonic mood of a relaxed celebration of life, the laughter and the experience of incidents indelible to consciousness. The heartfelt confidence that it takes to encounter confusion or the next unassailable moment is the same confidence that is invested in the playing of this music. It corresponds to many specific memories that Parker wants to share from his own life. But, at the same time, are conjured up the perceptions & reflections of other scrapbooks, which have their own stories to tell.
We can sit on a fire escape outside of an apartment in a small building swallowed up by a city sprawl or on the back porch of a singular house in the country and swat at the flies. We can reminisce about the day behind us and fantasize about the many days ahead. We can bask in the rising humidity that vaporizes off the ground at twilight at the end of a hot summer’s day, preparing silently for the unavoidable restlessness of tomorrow. This is what we can do.