A Guide to William Parker 

Source: A Guide to William Parker.

William Parker, who turned 70 on Monday, is the kind of artist who is both appropriately revered and unfairly pigeonholed.

Because his roots are in New York City’s wild and wooly ‘70s loft scene, and he’s remained a beacon within the free jazz community for decades, it’s easy to underestimate the beauty and stylistic breadth of Parker’s music. The acoustic bassist’s probing beats are a familiar homing device amidst the gnarly pitch and passion of fiery improvisations, but his artistry also celebrates the entirety of the human condition. Within his vast catalog—he has released dozens of albums under his own name, and hundreds more as a sideman—is music that spans genres, countries of origin, and the full spectrum of emotions. The tenderness of some of his compositions will bring a tear to your eye; the lyrics will raise goosebumps on your neck.