A review of William Parker and Giorgio Dini’s “Temporary”
A top notch free jazz record featuring two improvising masters, Temporary is a great example of state of the art freely improvised upright bass. Both William Parker and Giorgio Dini play expressively and passionately and both are wonderfully skilled in the use of the bow. The record consists of five free improvisations that demonstrate Parker and Dini’s passionate playing, focussed interaction and expressive capabilities.
I know Parker well from his long-term associations with David S. Ware and Peter Brˆtzmann, and his wonderful contributions to many records and concerts. Parker is at the forefront of free improvised music and has studied with such legends as Jimmy Garrison, Wilbur Ware, Richard Davis, Art Davis and Milt Hinton – a who’s who of jazz bass. He is one of a number of bassists on the free improv scene who are rooted in the history of African American music but not in any way limited by the tradition – similarly Fred Hopkins, Henry Grimes and Gary Peacock.
Giorgio Dini is a new name to me. He is classically trained and plays an impressive range of musical styles in his native Italy. Dini describes his influences as Joelle Leandre, Barre Phillips, Barry Guy and Gary Peacock among others. He favors arco on this record and proves himself a fine improviser.
The first improvisation, “Preludio”, features both players on arco throughout and what incredible sounds they create – mournfully moaning at times, animated and chirpy at others. The listening and interaction of the two is very impressive. The piece starts slow and stately and builds from there, ever-changing. Parker and Dini both use the full register of the bass from deep sustained sounds to high register bowing that reminded me of Bartok’s string quartets to high register otherworldly effects. They echo, copy and repeat each other and develop each other’s phrases. Both players’ intonation is immaculate and the impression is of two musical spirits completely in touch with their inspiration.
“Improvviso” features percussive pizzicato from Parker and arco from Dini in another beautiful free improvisation. This piece develops from free tempo with real rolling momentum to a shared implicit pulse and finally to a more explicit tempo. It’s enthralling to enter their sonic world as a listener. Dini plays with bowed harmonics at times as Parker plays the first hints of a repeated bass line. There is a dramatic deep tones solo rampage for Parker who uses pedal tones and raking effectively. He creates a solid rhythmic soundscape for the return of Dini’s bowing and Parker then plays an extremely powerful ostinato as Dini plays wildly over the top.
The third piece is based around Parker’s expressive shakuhachi solo. He sings through it, Roland Kirk style, to create an additional tone. There is a pentatonic flavor to Parker’s improvisations and the solo has a effective shape to it. Dini enters with sparse, light pizzicato chords. It’s a short track but the placement of a shakuhachi in the centre of a four double bass duets adds greatly to the structure and overall effect of the record.
“Lento” begins sparsely with Dini’s resonant bowing and the deep, elegant plucked tones from William Parker. There’s an explicit, slow pulse and motifs are used compositionally in the improvisations. Parker plays some magisterial low lines as Dini bows, exploring sound as ever. Dini’s arco chatters like forest animals and both players join in a brief upper register chirping duet that sets the scene for the final track.
“Danza e Finale” is the longest track and a tremendously engaging one. Brilliant otherworldly harmonics by Parker are supported by rapid rhythmic bowing from Dini and bells (I tried attaching bells to the head of my bass as I played once and I wonder if something similar happened here). There is beautiful high register bowing by both players and the tonality gradually approaches a folklike pentatonic one. The music becomes more strident and rhythmically regular like a choir of bowed harmonics creating the kind of sonic effects electric guitarists dream about. There is a great intensity and momentum here and somehow the music is both meditative and extremely intense and busy.
After about eight minutes (an incredible demonstration of Parker’s musicality) lower notes begin to enter and slower melodic phrasing and a darker theme gradually emerge as Dini and Parker explore more mournful theme, bowing sensitively and imaginatively as the pulse dissolves. Parker begins to solo again, accompanied by drumming on the body of the upright by Dini and gradually this develops a rich duet improvisation around a melodic cell, often playing in near unison in a middle-eastern flavored section, buzzing rhythmically like a choir of giant bees.
Suddenly we return to the rhythmical, pentatonic-flavored bowing of Parker accompanied by a sparse plucked melodic line. Dini’s rapid, bowing returns and this time heralds a surprise as Parker repeats a gorgeous ostinato with a Mingus-like swing as Dini bows ominously…what a journey.
This is a fine record. It’s out-there and only advisable for those prepared to be open-minded enough to enter Dini and Parker’s soundscape but those that do are in for a treat. Temporary features mostly arco playing and the bass playing is of the highest order – soulful, avant-garde, free jazz improvisation – honest and passionate music. Dini and Parker’s playing is deeply rooted in tradition but thoroughly ahead of it.
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