William Parker – I Plan To Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield (2010)

William Parker - I Plan To Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield (2010)
Artist: William Parker
Album: I Plan To Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield
Genre: Free Jazz, Avant-garde
Label: AUM Fidelity
Year Of Release: 2010
Quality: APE (image+.cue)

Tracklist:
CD 1:
01.I Plan To Stay A Believer 12:52
02.If There’s A Hell Below 21:23
03.We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue 17:41
04.I’m So Proud/Ya He Yey Ya 15:15
05.This Is My Country 5:44

CD 2:
06.People Get Ready/The Inside Song 14:38
07.This Is My Country 10:56
08.It’s Alright 5:13
09.Move On Up 17:27
10.Freddie’s Dead 11:26
11.New World Order 6:59

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The influential jazz bassist assembles an ambitious tribute to the songs of Curtis Mayfield, featuring contributions from Amiri Baraka, Hamid Drake, and more.

When Curtis Mayfield recorded his last album in 1996, he did it lying on his back, singing a line at a time. He had no choice– he’d been paralyzed since a 1990 lighting rig accident. He was near the end of a life and career that saw him become one of the most influential songwriters and performers of his generation. He was a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer and thinker who had his hands in a lot of amazing music, and was among the first black pop artists to inject the ideas and hopes of the Civil Rights movement into his work, doing it subtly at first with the Impressions with “Amen” and “Keep on Pushing” and then much more directly later on.

Jazz, of course, got to openly supporting Civil Rights and expressing black pride before pop music did. Max Roach’s 1960 Freedom Now Suite is a good example. Charles Mingus’ 1959 classic “Fables of Faubus” was a sly and sarcastic takedown of Arkansas governor Orval Faubus after the Little Rock Nine incident– the list is pretty long. Part of the reason jazz got there before Mayfield is that Mayfield was working within the constraints of pop radio, which is where all his record labels were aiming. In 1960, he couldn’t have done what Max Roach was doing for the simple fact that no one would have given him the chance.

Jazz bassist William Parker was getting his start in the early 70s just as Mayfield went solo with a series of albums that very directly addressed issues of race, equality, and black pride. These themes have run through Parker’s work as well for decades, so a tribute to Mayfield seems natural and fitting. Parker isn’t simply interpreting or covering Mayfield’s songs on I Plan to Stay a Believer, though. He’s extending them, treating them as living documents, and adding new content that dovetails with Mayfield’s political thoughts. Parker’s notes on the recording explain his belief that every song has an “inside song” waiting to be reborn, and he implies that these are the songs he heard inside Mayfield’s music.
by Joe Tangari

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