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Universal Tonality: The Life and Music of William Parker

Universal Tonality: The Life and Music of William Parker

by Cisco Bradley
Universal Tonality: The Life and Music of William Parker

Universal Tonality: The Life and Music of William Parker

by Cisco Bradley


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Since ascending onto the world stage in the 1990s as one of the premier bassists and composers of his generation, William Parker has perpetually toured around the world and released over forty albums as a leader. He is one of the most influential jazz artists alive today. In Universal Tonality historian and critic Cisco Bradley tells the story of Parker’s life and music. Drawing on interviews with Parker and his collaborators, Bradley traces Parker’s ancestral roots in West Africa via the Carolinas to his childhood in the South Bronx, and illustrates his rise from the 1970s jazz lofts and extended work with pianist Cecil Taylor to the present day. He outlines how Parker’s early influences—Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and writers of the Black Arts Movement—grounded Parker’s aesthetic and musical practice in a commitment to community and the struggle for justice and freedom. Throughout, Bradley foregrounds Parker’s understanding of music, the role of the artist, and the relationship between art, politics, and social transformation. Intimate and capacious, Universal Tonality is the definitive work on Parker’s life and music.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478011194
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 02/12/2021
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 369,320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

Cisco Bradley is Associate Professor of History at the Pratt Institute, editor of the Jazz Right Now blog, and author of Forging Islamic Power and Place: The Legacy of Shaykh Da’ud bin ‘Abd Allah al-Fatani in Mecca and Southeast Asia.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. "Flowers Grow in My Room": Realizing a Vision  1
I. Origins
1. Enslavement and Resistance: From West Africa to the Carolinas to Harlem 15
2. Struggle, Beauty, and Survival: Childhood in the South Bronx  41
3. Consciousness: Art, Politics, and Self in the Mind of a Young Man  61
II. Early Work
4. The Loft Scene: Art, Community, and Self-Determination  93
5. "Music That Will Give People Hope": Centering Dance Music with Patricia Nicholson  124
6. "Music Is Supposed to Change People": Working with Cecil Taylor  148
III. Toward the Universal
7. "It Is the Job of the Artist to Incite Political Revolution": In Order to Survive  173
8. Into the Tone World: Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra  194
9. Toward a Universal Sound: William Parker Quartet and Raining on the Moon  216
10. Honoring the Elders: Tribute Projects and Other Bands  239
11. All People Need Truth to Survive: Recent Work and Legacy  261
Appendix: William Parker Discography  279
Notes  291
Bibliography  359
Index  385

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