The 45th of Jon Turney’s weekly selections is from a great quartet of the noughties.
The first recording by William Parker’s quartet, O’Neal’s Porch from 2001, made it clear they had something rather special.
The pianoless quartet format works brilliantly for Rob Brown on alto and Lewis Barnes on trumpet. And Parker and the astounding Hamid Drake are one of the great rhythm pairings. Like Haden and Blackwell, I would always chase down a recording that featured either one of them, but if they are together then joy is more or less guaranteed.
This selection from two sets one night five years later in California shows how well a band plays together that stays together. The last number in set two is also the final track on that first CD.
There’s an ease with the time that allows an almost straight ahead feel, but entirely flexibly when anyone is moved to a freer moment, a seamless interweaving of the two horns, and the four-way responsiveness that usually depends on long-term musical collaboration.
But I also like the valedictory air of this relatively gentle piece. They are still playing, for sure, but there’s a sense that they are heading for the wind-up, taking things home. They have just laid down 150 minutes of high-level music-making, which is now complete, and completely satisfying.
Hear the track on Bandcamp