William Parker Violin Trio Scrapbook

Billy Bang is the big attraction here. Bang has been one of very few skronky violinists associated with forward-thinking jazz. His own records have been hit and miss affairs, such as the Vietnam project of last year, which got great press but was disappointingly restrained. Fortunately, Scrapbook is one of his career high points. He's well matched with William Parker and Hamid Drake, who are locked into a fierce out-groove mode. This disc starts intriguingly with the three cooking up a theme that's played as if looped by a sampler. Some decent free exploration with a very bluesy edge ensues, wherein Parker seems to channel Charlie Haden. The middle three tunes "Singing Spirits,” "Dust on a White Shirt" and "Urban" are great showcases for some frenzied, multi-phonic fiddlin'. Bang's way with avant-country string scraping really comes to the fore in this trio of tunes. Going way beyond country, Bang finds great new harmonic routes in simple themes while Parker and Drake cook up grooves that haven't sounded so convincing since Piercing the Veil a couple of years back. The disc is judiciously kept around 50 minutes, another 20 might have been too much. This is one of Thirsty Ear's best releases so far this year. (Thirsty Ear)