William Parker / Raining on the Moon Corn Meal Dance

Corn Meal Dance is the second album by Raining on the Moon, a project helmed by free jazz bassist William Parker that centres on the work of vocalist Leena Conquest. The focus is on songs of consciousness-raising and spiritual uplift. The lyrics’ earnestness requires a willing suspension of cynicism in the listener but Conquest’s sweet, dignified delivery helps immensely; she sells them but doesn’t oversell them. Saxophonist Rob Brown and trumpeter Lewis Barnes get off some brief but telling solos, while pianist Eri Yamamoto’s gospel-y chords cushion and shape the deep juju grooves carved out by Parker and drummer Hamid Drake. This is Parker’s most polished and user-friendly CD to date, though there are still enough dizzying free-fall passages to keep it just to the side of the jazz mainstream. (Aum Fidelity, www.aumfidelity.com) Nate Dorward (Aum Fidelity)