Christopher Parker & the Band of Guardian Angels: Soul Food (Mahakala Music, 2021)

February 2, 2022 at 6:11 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Christopher Parker & the Band of Guardian Angels: Soul Food

Pianist Christopher Parker leads this all-star assembly on a nourishing quest with no earthly boundaries. The lineup includes wind multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, bassist William Parker, and drummer Gerald Cleaver, in addition to vocalist Kelley Hurt, who plays with both Parkers in Dopolarians, and also collaborated with Christopher on 2020’s No Tears Suite, written about the Little Rock Nine. While that album clearly had a story and a message behind it, this one is more of a melding of forces and cluster of energies than anything else. Hurt’s vocals are amorphous and interpretive rather than lyrical, and the rest of the band similarly pushes, pulls, and spills out, freely expressing themselves rather than running through melodies or follow straightforward rhythms. “Guardian Angels” is the most immediately gripping piece here, with William Parker sounding like he’s sawing out the innards of his bass, and the rest of the musicians sort of pushing in the same direction, but also moving in their own paths. The proceedings do get a little messy, and later into the album, it does get to the point where it’s hard to tell if the musicians are actually in the same room, paying attention to each other’s playing. Christopher Parker’s piano playing stands out, getting quite rollicking at some points. Hurt curiously seems to disappear from the studio for a while, although she resurfaces on the final track.

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