|William Parker’s new album, Long Hidden: The Olmec Series, explores and expands on the ancient DNA/cultural codex that connects Africa to The Americas - reflecting William Parker’s long abiding interest in and study of the continental connection between the Manding people of West Africa and the Olmec of ancient Mexico (root culture of the Maya forward). A meditation exercise toward your enduring pertinence in the present world? A ten-track introductory manual on how to comport yourself in the reigning parallel? Yes to both questions. 2012 is on its way, after all.
The album opens with an arrestingly spacious solo bass performance of the traditional hymn “There Is A Balm In Gilead”, one of William’s favorites. It continues episodically with music from three different sessions: The title track is a series of solo pieces on the 8-string doson ngoni (traditional hunter’s guitar from West Africa). William was introduced to the instrument in 1975 by Don Cherry. Parker writes in the liner notes, “I had already owned a kora, but it was the Ngoni that made my heart sing. This music is daily music. It is connected to the people sitting on the porch after supper, playing that old guitar, a suspending time of tuning and detuning dreams.” The two further compositions on solo bass are rendered arco, revealing William’s theory of music - sound is light and light is sound.
The third session, launching off the grid, are four pieces by THE OLMEC GROUP. These tracks are at the crux of Long Hidden – mysterious and entrancing sound poetry embracing the Caribbean and Middle America via inspiration drawn from the Great Stone Head of the Olmec. Further to William on percussion and 6-string doson ngoni, the O.G. is composed of Dave Sewelson: the veteran saxophone player who has been active on the creative music scene for the last thirty years, Todd Nicholson: a formidable presence on the bass who when not leading his own bands can be heard with the violinist Billy Bang, and - Omar Payano, Isaiah Parker, Gabriel Nunez and Luis Ramierez - all under 23 years old, who play Merengue music. William writes: “It is the sound of hieroglyphics coming off the scroll or stone wall and marching onto boats that will soon set sail. Where these boats will land I don’t know, this new journey is just beginning.”
* IN CASE OF ACCIDENT - originally issued on the cassette album, Painter’s Autumn, self-released by William Parker in 1994 and long since out of print. A truly epic solo bass piece recorded live in Montreal in 1993, and here given its first wide release on the outer rings of this first edition pressing of Long Hidden. - SJ
6-panel digipak with liner notes by William Parker
Artwork & Design by John FELL Ryan of Excepter.