In this RTV episode, William Parker performs When You Smile, The big Orange Mountain Cries with the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra.
Parker discusses the term “creative music” as signifying a kind of performance where the music “procreates” or takes on a life of its own regardless of its style. He dedicates his piece to the inspirational sharecropper Fannie Lou Haymer, who struggled to register voters in Mississippi in the 1960s (where she was assaulted by reactionary police). Parker hopes to extend this dedication to anyone struggling to be her own person.
Aired on rTV: 2001
Performance date: 04/05/2001
Episode release date: 05/08/2010
Host: Phoebe Legere
Produced by Jim Staley
Directed by Matt Mehlan
Characterized by the Village Voice as “the most consistently brilliant free bassist of all time,” William Parker has been in demand as a performer with such notable avant-jazz musicians as Ed Blackwell, Don Cherry, Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, Billy Higgins, Sunny Murray, and Cecil Taylor. Parker is also a prolific composer who has written in a wide range of forms including opera (eg. “A Thousand Cranes” for orchestra, dance, and a 1000 school children performed at the opening of the UN Special Session on Disarmament in June, 1982), oratorio, ballet (eg. “Light Slices My Heart” for voices and small ensemble with Aztec poetry), film scores, various works for large and small instrumental ensembles, and soliloquies for solo instruments. Parker has published three volumes of poetry. In particular, he wrote the emotionally gripping text for “When You Smile, The big Orange Mountain Cries,” a work performed on this videotape by Parker (on wind instruments and percussion as well as bass) with his current large ensemble, the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. The piece courses through subtle and rich timbres, captivating solos and intricate counterpoint, most of which arise spontaneously to support the deeply felt vocals of Leena Conquest.