Saturday, April 29, 2006


From Jazziz, May 2006 issue:

Long Hidden: The Olmec Series
(AUM Fidelity)
This is a multifaceted disc, unusual for Parker, who tends to record using his working bands rather than assemble musicians for a studio date. There are solo bass pieces, tracks for unaccompanied doson n'goni (an eight-stringed African instrument that sounds like a slightly out-of-tune guitar plucked by his thickly calloused fingers) and several cuts featuring a full band playing a mixture of free jazz and merengue. This "Olmec Group" features Todd Nicholson on bass (freeing Parker up to play the doson n'goni), Dave Sewelson on alto and baritone saxes, Omar Payano on congo and guiro, Gabriel Nunez on timbale and bongos, Luis Ramirez on accordion, and Isaiah Parker on alto sax. Sewelson takes a terrific, scorchingly free solo on "El Puente Seco," as the band churns and wheezes behind him. It's a totally unexpected combination - merengue groove and free shriek - but under Parker's able direction, it works beautifully.

The title piece is divided into three sections, each a solo for doson n'goni. These run out of order throughout the album: Part Two, only 45 seconds long, is track two, Part Three is track five, and Part One is track 10. Parker reprises a few favorite songs, taking the spiritual "There Is A Balm In Gilead" as a bass solo to open the disc and reworking "Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy," originally recorded by his In Order To Survive quartet, in the disc's second half. The final track, "In Case Of Accident," is a similarly vintage live recording of a 14-minute bass solo, originally released on cassette through Parker's own label, Centering Music. It provides a long-winded but intermittently thrilling coda to this surprising and masterful disc.

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