William Parker I Plan To Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield

William Parker I Plan To Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield
Bassist William Parker has recorded his share of serious free-jazz albums. On I Plan To Stay A Believer, he sheds his dour duds for the life-affirming robes of a proselytizer. He leads a jubilant octet through live recordings of a dozen tunes by iconic soul singer Curtis Mayfield, joined on two tracks by the rousing energy of the New Life Tabernacle Generation of Praise choir. One factor in the affirmative character of this double-CD set is the presence of Amiri Baraka, who takes on the role of exhorting preacher, raising the roof with shouts of "tell the truth now" and "move on up." Vocalist Leena Conquest delivers Mayfield's lyrics with soulful grace and conviction, while tenor saxist Darryl Foster is full of passionate fire on every solo. "This Is My Country" gets a raucous reading, in the vein of Albert Ayler's presciently contemporary New Grass. All but one track is powered by the indefatigable grooves laid down by the most positive percussion of drummer Hamid Drake. While the live performances and sound quality are a bit rough in spots, the musicians' energy and commitment are ever-present. (Aum Fidelity)