William Parker Interview

Source: JazzTrail.

I was introduced to the music of Duke Ellington when I was seven years old through my father, who played the recording Ellington Live at Newport 1956. There was a track, “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” that was a favorite, the one where the tenor player Paul Gonsalves played chorus after chorus taking the music to a holy ghost feeling, like in the black church. Great music every night played in the house and every day and all day on Saturday – Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Willis Gator Tails Jackson, Don Byas, Gene Ammons. All of this music led me to the music of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Yusef Lateef, and just about everybody who was making music in the 50s and 60s. When I was about 9 years old, my father got me a trumpet and sent me for lessons. Later, I switched to trombone and cello. But through listening to bass players like Percy Heath, Jimmy Garrison, Charlie Haden, John Lamb and David Izenzon, I decided that the bass was for me. That coincided with me realizing the purpose of music was to heal people. When I was 17, I jumped into the arena and attempted to see if I could make a contribution to the world of music.