New York City Jazz Record
Review: Ken Aldcroft/William Parker “One Sunday” (TRP-DS01-014)
BY: Mark Keresman

While active in NYC's underground/avant garde jazz circles since the early '70s, it was in the '90s that bassist William Parker became widely known. Aside from his many albums as a leader, Parker's recordings and performances with pianist Matthew Shipp and saxophonists Peter Brötzmann and David S. Ware (as well as indie rockers Yo La Tengo) have garnered him international renown. Not as yet well-known, Canadian guitarist Ken Aldcroft has established himself in the creative jazz scenes of Vancouver and Toronto, performing and recording with the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto), electronica duo MiMo and Anthony Braxton.

One Sunday is Aldcroft and Parker in a presumably completely improvised duo context. "Sweet Beverly" is a leisurely, blues-lanced ramble—and "ramble" in the best sense of the word. These gents reconnoiter with and around country blues phrases in a free-form mode yet with implied rhythmic impetus and in a yearningly bittersweet manner. Parker’s bass is pliant, played with an exploratory scope yet with plenty of urgent throb and presence. Aldcroft has a brittle, crackling, yet at times crystalline tone and while he plays an electric axe there are virtually no effects or distortion. His approach intertwines the open-ended aspects of Derek Bailey, drive of Fred Frith and earthy countryside twang of Bill Frisell.

"Monroe Street Bop" is sideways freebop, Aldcroft making with some angular but strangely swinging phrases and some earnestly swinging Parker. "Warm'in On McKibben" finds Parker on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), blowing somewhat mournfully and freely while Aldcroft plucks away with merry, pointed abandon, evoking slightly the more impressionistic aspects of the free improvisations of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The lengthy “One Sunday” is the least satisfying track, as it sounds as if the duo is waiting for the right inspiration to alight—it meanders while the other pieces have a more visceral, immediate tenor yet maintaining a high level of musicianship.

One Sunday is not an album for free jazz novices, but those smitten with and well-versed in the ways of non-idiomatic improvisation will find much to savor.