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Long Hidden: The Olmec Series by William Parker

The unusual nature of Long Hidden: The Olmec Series arises from the way in which Parker participates in the music. Somehow his connection is paternal. It is as if both in the solo and group tracks, he is telling the story of the universal family he came from, the family he spawned and the family with which he lives.

The beauty of Parker’s spirit and ceaseless expenditure of energy irrevocably enlivens the act of listening to the music. He is bridging the ocean between continents instrumentally, philosophically, sociologically and ethnically. All this he does with the sagesse of a contemporary Homer.

Parker’s music unwinds lessons that will unite everyone in spirit. The bass tones evoke the voice of a grandfather. The single doson ngoni transmits in a moderately deep tonal stratum another level of wisdom, perhaps feminine, delicate, warm and loving. When the music moves into the group, we experience the community of the family and the tribe. It is in the groups that Parker releases his bass playing to Todd Nicholson and takes on percussion and the African doson ngoni. With the exception of two compositions, Parker steers the improvisation of all of the music.

The Olmec Group explodes with the rhythmic drives of the dance. The music incites a vivid imaginary picture of how the ancestors of the population of the Dominican Republic might convene for ritual, pleasure, or joy. This convening is the backbone of spiritual oneness. "Pok-a-Tok" superbly exemplifies the invaluable Signifyin(g) of the repeated phrases where everyone is in unison, moving along the same line within the same framework with the same intentions.

Culminating tracks on this recording are "Cathedral of Light," "Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy" and the mysterious Track 11 in which Parker magnificently demonstrates his virtuosity on the single upright bass, but it seems as if he is playing 1000 instruments. Parker transforms the sound of the bass into that which indicates fluidity and ringing more than that which is strummed or stroked. His mastery is mind-boggling. How many times I have seen Parker wrap himself close to the strings, use his bow as the extension of his arm, dig into the resonance of those unbelievably resilient strings, become hypnotically entranced in producing the music, groan and grunt in the articulation of every pitch and the control of its overtones as could radiate from the vibrating or the dampening or squeezing of the strings.

"Long Hidden," parts one, two and three, loops its way through the recording. In that looping is a means to tie together the heart strings that guide the sound. Executed by Parker alone on either the bass or doson ngoni, "Long Hidden" addresses relationships among people and asks the questions that permeate our souls. These are the questions about holding on as the earth shakes geopolitically and geologically about us. These are the questions which can often only be asked through music penetrating our very guts and beings. There are no answers. There is only music. We will still be listening as the skies darken with storms or as the sun shines on our uplifted faces.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: William Parker
  • CD Title: Long Hidden: The Olmec Series
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: AUM Fidelity
  • Tracks: There is A Balm in Gilead, Long Hidden (part two), Codex, El Puente Seco, Long Hidden (part three), Cathedral of Light, Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy, Pok-a-Tok, Espirito, Long Hidden (part one), Track 11
  • Musicians: William Parker solo (bass, 8-string doson ngoni), The Olmec Group (Todd Nicholson, bass; Dave Sewelson, baritone and alto sax; William Parker, percussion and 6-string doson ngoni; Omar Payano, congo, guiro, voice; Gabriel Nunez, timbale, bongos; Luis Ramirez, accordion; Isiah Parker, alto sax)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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