William Parker – Crumbling In The Shadows Is Fraulien Miller's Stale Cake

William Parker – Crumbling In The Shadows Is Fraulien Miller's Stale Cake

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[CENTERING 1005/1006] - Download includes extensive PDF with entire contents of original 48pg booklet, all texts and images

William Parker: solo bass, compositions, texts

"2011 Rewind: Best Jazz & Improv Records" –The Wire

Crumbling In the Shadows Is Fraulein Miller's Stale Cake is master William Parker's most recent released work for solo bass. It was originally issued in a ltd. edition (of 987) 3-CD box set on Parker's own Centering imprint, comprising this work across 2 CDs in full tandem with a 48-page booklet of all-new William Parker texts (poems, dreams, meditations, stories). Powerful and profound, through and through. Cinematic excursions on solo bass accompanied with words that present a fully seasoned new recipe for life. Parker's first solo bass album from 1995, Testimony, was also reissued / included with the box, which quickly sold out.

As with Testimony, we are very excited to finally have this tremendous work (total music & texts in accompanying PDF booklet) be made available in full resolution once again, exclusively on Bandcamp.

"When musicians put pen to paper and stories emerge, the words often bear a striking resemblance to the way they play. Charles Mingus’ autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, exudes soul and feeling amid a complex ocean of historical reference. Henry Grimes’ poetry is observational, yet tranquil. Crumbling in the Shadows is Fraulein Miller’s Stale Cake, William Parker’s new box set, is the latest work by a musician who also possesses the gift of verbal expression.

The book includes more than 20 short pieces of poetry and prose, all of which feel like different forms of meditation. Again and again, throughout the dreams, stories and poetic think pieces, Parker writes of love, and not the frivolous kind. Parker’s worldview is a utopic one, where there’s no war and all people live free. His narrative is populated by the living and the dead in Joycean tandem, emerging and then reentering the chronologically disparate shadow worlds they occupy. Real and imagined people dance through the vivid language, composers and performers interacting with figures out of black history in a way that’s dizzying and fantastic.

Underneath the booklet [in the box] lies Crumbling in the Shadows is Fraulein Miller’s Stale Cake's two discs of improvisatory solo bass. These were captured on a single afternoon in 2010, while the third is a reissue of Parker’s first solo record, Testimony, recorded in 1994. The latter is busier than the recent recordings, but you can still hear the hallmarks of Parker’s solo style. His playing is fancifully deliberate; ideas emerge serially, each defined and existing in its own space, and there is no telling what era, or genre, will be evoked in the next second.

As with the various personages populating his prose, history and topos are Parker’s playthings. On disc one’s “Equador/Resolution,” a slow swinging rhythm unfolds like molasses, stretching itself through augmentation, as if Morton Feldman played the blues. Defying convention and embracing elasticity, something about it feels like an archetype for solo bass. Parker’s playing thrives on this kind of juxtaposition; in “Night Density,” he slides easily from gorgeously “classical” bowed lines, heavy with blooming and ripening overtones, to bright percussives, turning his bass into a drum to call up the spirits pervading his writing.

Like the contents of the book, the music ranges from brief vignettes to free-flowing improvisations that sometime break the 20-minute mark. There is a unity in acoustics that successfully bridges the 16-year gap between sessions, and plenty of ambience that allows each detail to bud, bloom and fade in natural sound. Ideologically and musically, Crumbling in the Shadows is Fraulein Miller’s Stale Cake is a triumph of unified thought and clear vision."
–Marc Medwin, Dusted

"Sometimes it takes me a while to catch up to a good – make that, in this case, great – thing. I recently picked up a copy of William Parker's solo bass opus, a three-CD, limited edition box set of music and, not surprisingly, given the singularity of this artist, much more. Suffice it to say that I have never heard anything quite like this. The scope of the work – conceptually, technically, aesthetically – is powerful, and makes the project a true landmark in the music. Deeply spiritual and sophisticated, this music goes straight to the heart and camps out there, telling stories and singing songs. Get a copy while you still can. You won't regret it, truly." –Stephen Haynes

1. Stained Glass Sky with Dancing Light (for Stan Brakhage) - 21:26
2. Crumbling in the Shadows is Fraulein Miller's Stale Cake - 19:20
3. Equador/Resolution - 24:54
4. Night Density - 13:21
5. Double Mystery - 17:37
6. Green Mountains (for Bill Dixon) - 06:00
7. Philadelphia Clay - 06:44    
8. Velocity - 06:45
9. Pointed Acceptance - 11:51

All compositions by William Parker, © Centering Music (BMI)

Produced by William Parker for Centering Records
Recorded on August 12th, 2010 by Keith Parker
at The Gallery Recording Studio, Brooklyn
Mastered by Isaiah Parker
Cover photograph by Tom Wilkins
Layout/design by Ming@AUM