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William Parker (Bass): I Plan to Stay a Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield [Digipak]

Audio Samples

>I Plan to Stay a Believer
>If There's a Hell Below
>We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue
>I'm So Proud/Ya He Yey Ya
>This Is My Country
>People Get Ready/The Inside Song
>This Is My Country
>It's Alright
>Move On Up
>Freddie's Dead
>New World Order

Track List

>I Plan to Stay a Believer
>If There's a Hell Below
>We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue
>I'm So Proud/Ya He Yey Ya
>This Is My Country
>People Get Ready/The Inside Song
>This Is My Country
>It's Alright
>Move On Up
>Freddie's Dead
>New World Order

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

"In the liner notes to this two-disc set, bassist William Parker lays out the goal for his ensemble's interpretations of some of Curtis Mayfield's most profound musical, political and social statements. The group doesn't set out to directly cover these familiar anthems, but, as Parker says, it's to discover an "inside song" that "lives in the shadows, in-between the sounds and silences and behind the words, pulsating, waiting to be reborn as a new song." Besides, he adds, "We can never play Curtis Mayfield better than Curtis Mayfield did." So the combination of multireedists Darryl Foster and Sabir Mateen with trumpeter Lewis Barnes owes as much to Sun Ra's arrangements for his Arkestra as they do to Johnny Pate's orchestrations for The Impressions. Meanwhile, Parker and drummer Hamid Drake emphasize the groove, particularly on "Move On Up" and "Freddie's Dead." Leena Conquest and Amiri Baraka add new lyrics based on, but not always directly tied to, Mayfield's words: They may be provocative, but they're not wrong. While Baraka has a reputation as a firebrand, his new improvised verses can be trenchant ("This Is My Country"), yet he's most strident in his optimism ("People Get Ready"). The recordings on this disc were made live in Italy, France, New York and Massachusetts - including a 2001 gig with a chorus of French children singing "This Is My Country" and "New World Order" (in English). Mayfield's legacy has always been universal." -DownBeat

Album Reviews:

Down Beat (p.91) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "There is an immensely powerful and convinced assault to the much of the music here, and both CDS warrant repeat listening."

JazzTimes (p.59) - "[A] superb example of how a pop songbook can be transformed into meaningful jazz....This is a fierce and awesome display of musical prowess."

Album Notes

Personnel: Leena Conquest (vocals); Sabir Mateen (flute, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Darryl Foster (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Lewis Barnes (trumpet); Dave Burrell (piano); Hamid Drake (drums).

Liner Note Author: William Parker .

Recording information: Banlieues Bleues Festival, Paris, France (02/10/2007); Botticino Jazz, Botticino, Italy (02/10/2007); Chiasso Jazz Festival, Chiasso, Italy (02/10/2007); Jazz & Wine Of Peace Festival, Cormons, Italy (02/10/2007); Magic Triangle Jazz Series, Amherst, MA (02/10/2007); Vision Festival XIII, New York City (02/10/2007); Banlieues Bleues Festival, Paris, France (03/13/2001); Botticino Jazz, Botticino, Italy (03/13/2001); Chiasso Jazz Festival, Chiasso, Italy (03/13/2001); Jazz & Wine Of Peace Festival, Cormons, Italy (03/13/2001); Magic Triangle Jazz Series, Amherst, MA (03/13/2001); Vision Festival XIII, New York City (03/13/2001); Banlieues Bleues Festival, Paris, France (04/03/2002); Botticino Jazz, Botticino, Italy (04/03/2002); Chiasso Jazz Festival, Chiasso, Italy (04/03/2002); Jazz & Wine Of Peace Festival, Cormons, Italy (04/03/2002); Magic Triangle Jazz Series, Amherst, MA (04/03/2002); Vision Festival XIII, New York City (04/03/2002); Banlieues Bleues Festival, Paris, France (06/15/2008); Botticino Jazz, Botticino, Italy (06/15/2008); Chiasso Jazz Festival, Chiasso, Italy (06/15/2008); Jazz & Wine Of Peace Festival, Cormons, Italy (06/15/2008); Magic Triangle Jazz Series, Amherst, MA (06/15/2008); Vision Festival XIII, New York City (06/15/2008); Banlieues Bleues Festival, Paris, France (10/25/2008); Botticino Jazz, Botticino, Italy (10/25/2008); Chiasso Jazz Festival, Chiasso, Italy (10/25/2008); Jazz & Wine Of Peace Festival, Cormons, Italy (10/25/2008); Magic Triangle Jazz Series, Amherst, MA (10/25/2008); Vision Festival XIII, New York City (10/25/2008); Banlieues Bleues Festival, Paris, France (10/29/2008); Botticino Jazz, Botticino, Italy (10/29/2008); Chiasso Jazz Festival, Chiasso, Italy (10/29/2008); Jazz & Wine Of Peace Festival, Cormons, Italy (10/29/2008); Magic Triangle Jazz Series, Amherst, MA (10/29/2008); Vision Festival XIII, New York City (10/29/2008).

Photographer: Luciano Rossetti.

Arranger: William Parker .

Released by AUM Fidelity as a double CD in 2010, I Plan to Stay a Believer is bassist William Parker's heart and soul tribute to vocalist and songwriter Curtis Mayfield. Parker, an extraordinarily resourceful improviser and internationally respected leader of creative ensembles, joyously celebrates the interwoven traditions of African-American musical culture by saluting an artist whose best works still define an entire mode of positive, uplifting musical expression. Mayfield rose to prominence with Jerry Butler and the Impressions in the late `50s, helped that group to become mainstays of Chicago soul throughout the `60s, and achieved superstar status in his own right during the early `70s. Parker's Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield Project is vividly documented in this collection. It includes material from the initial Parisian concert performance of March 2001 (which featured the voices of some 90 children); an April 2002 appearance in Amherst, Massachusetts; a live celebration at Chiasso, Switzerland in February 2007; a well-received presentation before a New York audience in June 2008, and two festive shows which took place in Botticino and Cormans, Italy in October 2008. This hefty offering comes as a pleasant and welcome surprise. It is in some ways comparable to the late 20th century "Avant-Pop" excursions of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, as well as Bowie's unforgettable collaborations with his wife Fontella Bass. A fine vocalist from Texas named Leena Conquest performed beautifully throughout Parker's Mayfield tribute series, and there were visitations from Brooklyn's New Life Tabernacle Generation of Praise Choir.

With Parker as veritable anchors of the Project were pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Hamid Drake as well as poet Amiri Baraka. Extra motivation was provided by trumpeter Lewis Barnes, saxophonist Darryl Foster, and Sabir Mateen, who handled saxophones and flute. Additional participants have been identified as pianist Lafayette Gilchrist and percussionist Guillermo E. Brown. In addition to his contrabass, Parker may be heard playing on an African xylophone-like instrument known as the balofon, as well as the doson'ngoni, a species of West African lute. Some may recall that trumpeter Don Cherry always used to express great love and reverence for the doson'ngoni. AUM Fidelity's double-CD release is a powerful sequel to the Rai Trade label's The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield which was issued in 2007. Material for that album was drawn exclusively from a 2004 festival performance, which took place in Rome. Any and all recordings made by William Parker and his troupe in honor of Curtis Mayfield really should be obtained and played at high volume for all to hear. This is music of global relevance and cosmic importance. It is also distinctly approachable and, one might even say, embraceable. ~ arwulf arwulf



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