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William Parker

New York, NY      

William Parker is a musician, improviser, composer, educator, and author. He plays the bass, shakuhachi, double reeds, tuba, donso ngoni and gembri. William entered the music scene in 1971, playing at Studio We, Studio Rivbea, Hilly’s on The Bowery, and The Baby Grand. By the age of 20, Parker quickly became a highly sought after bassist, playing with established musicians such as Ed Blackwell, Don Cherry, Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, Billy Higgins, and Sunny Murray.  Projects with dancer and choreographer Patricia Nicholson have created a huge repertoire of composed music for multiple ensembles ranging from solo works to big band projects. In 1980, he became a member of the Cecil Taylor Unit, in which he played a prominent role for over a decade.

In 1995, the Village Voice characterized William Parker as “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time.” In addition to his work with artists in the United States, he has developed a strong relationship with musicians in the European Improvised Music scene such as Peter Kowald, Peter Brotzmann, Han Bennink, Tony Oxley, Derek Bailey, John Tchicai, Louis Sclavis, and Louis Moholo.  

William Parker began recording in 1994 and founded the ensembles In Order To Survive and The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. In 2001, he released O’Neal’s Porch, which marked a turn toward a more universal sound working with drummer Hamid Drake. The Raining on the Moon Quintet followed, adding vocalist Leena Conquest and the Quartet from O’Neal’s Porch. Most notable among many recent projects is the Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield.

As Steve Greenlee of the Boston Globe stated in July 2002, “William Parker has emerged as the most important leader of the current avant-garde scene in jazz.” Parker has consistently worked in many of the most important groups within this genre, including his own. He currently leads The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, In Order to Survive, Raining on the Moon, Stan’s Hat Flapping in the Wind, and The Cosmic Mountain Quartet with Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and Cooper-Moore.

Parker has released over 20 albums under his leadership, most reaching #1 on the CMJ charts. In 1995, he debuted The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra with the release of Flowers Grow In My Room on the Centering label.  Recent years saw the release of several monumental box sets, including 2013’s Wood Flute Songs and 2015’s For Those Who Are, Still, highlighting the work of Parker’s many groups and large ensembles. His recordings appear on the Aum Fidelity label and his own Centering Music, among others.  

In 2013, Parker received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in recognition of his influence and impact on the creative jazz scene over the last 40 years.

A passionate educator, William Parker has taught at Bennington College, NYU, The New England Conservatory of Music, Cal Arts, New School University and Rotterdam Conservatory of Music. He has also taught music workshops throughout the world including Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, and the Lower East Side. Parker is a theorist and author of several books including  Who Owns Music?, Conversations I & II, Voices in the First Person, Scrapbook: Notes and Blueprints, Sound Journal, and The Mayor of Punkville. Additionally, he has released three volumes of poetry and a theatre piece titled Music and the Shadow People.

Meditation/Resurrection

Series of excerpts from William Parker’s August 2017 album “Meditation/Resurrection.”
Disc 1 lineup: Jalalu Kalvert Nelson, trumpet; Rob Brown, alto saxophone; William Parker, bass and Hamid Drake, drums
Disc 2 lineup: Rob Brown, alto saxophone; Cooper-Moore, piano; William Parker, bass and Hamid Drake, drums

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Under_Line Benefit Concert

Under_Line Benefit Concert on December 4, 2012, featuring William Parker, Hamiet Bluiett, Charles Gayle, Christian McBride, Cooper-Moore, and Jason Hwang.

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