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Review of performance with William Parker and David Mott

In his musical creation, free jazz bass master William Parker puts the emphasis on spirituality, much like John Coltrane, whom he greatly admires. Parker believes that music should be used to make the world a better place, to enlighten, to awaken joy and human compassion. Maybe that’s where the “sonoluminescence” comes in, the definition of “sonoluminescence” being the production of light from sound. Maybe you could call that enlightenment. “Single bubble sonoluminescence (SL) is the spontaneous emission of picosecond pulses of broadband light from a micron-size gas bubble levitated in water by the application of an external sound field.” Maybe you could say the musicians produced sonic vibrations that levitated the audience members, or 'bubbles'.

It has been said that science is the new religion. I had not previously sensed any similarities between the concert hall of the Guelph Youth Music Centre and the church I attended as a child but the two shared an atmosphere on this Sunday afternoon, perhaps helped by the natural stone and wood featured in both buildings. I remembered counting the planks of wood in the cathedral ceiling during the sermon to pass the time. In this lighter and brighter room, no such distraction was necessary. The sonic vibrations produced by the trio of bassist William Parker, saxophonist David Mott and drummer-percussionist Jesse Stewart flowed in perfect complement as the three men’s spirituality and exploratory musical natures meshed and the music was over in what seemed a flash. Through it all, artist Jeff Schlanger translated sound to vision, applying brush and paint to paper.

The music definitely had a skeleton, but its flesh and blood formed and shifted shape freely. Great intensity sometimes developed, slowly, over time. It was never foisted on us, unexpected. William Parker began the music on wooden flute, Jesse Stewart bowed a metal disc and initiated the ringing of metallic bowls. Soon David Mott’s baritone breaths added a new dimension. Parker put down the flute and picked up a Chinese trumpet, holding a high note while Stewart played kit drums with his hands, a motif of three rising notes on the baritone materialized and the music flowed on. After about twenty minutes, William Parker picked up his bass. Turbulent baritone played with brushed drums and full, fast bass that went solo. A perceptible impulse led to a pizzicato run across the strings below the bridge followed by a plucking across the neck. Jesse Stewart responded by picking up the snare drum and playing it like a banjo, which led the way back to trio playing. At one point, Parker played tuba and in the end, he sang a simple melody:

“Death has died today
God is in tears
And the devil wears a grin
With his head in the sand
And his feet in an oil well”

“That last tune is going to stay in my head the rest of the day”, said one young woman as we left the concert hall.

The mystery of how sound waves can cause the emission of light is still unsolved, but we know that they do.