William Parker (musician)

William Parker (born January 10, 1952) is an American free jazz double bassist, multi-instrumentalist, poet and composer.

William Parker
Background information
Born (1952-01-10) January 10, 1952
New York City, New York, USA
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, poet, festival organizer
InstrumentsDouble bass
Years active1970s–present


Parker was born in the Bronx, New York City. He was not formally trained as a classical player, though he did study with Jimmy Garrison, Richard Davis, and Wilbur Ware and learned the tradition. Parker is one of few jazz bassists who frequently plays arco. He also plays several other instruments from around the world, including the West African kora.

While Parker has been active since the early 1970s; he has had a higher public profile since the early 1990s. He is a prominent and influential musician in the New York City experimental jazz scene,[1] and has regularly appeared at music festivals around the world, including the Guelph Jazz Festival in southern Ontario.

Parker first came to public attention with pianist Cecil Taylor. He has long been a member of saxophonist David S. Ware's quartet and in Peter Brötzmann's groups. Parker also played with various other groups that included Paul Murphy (who would fill in for Philly Joe Jones) whenever he was in town shopping for new drum sticks.

He is a member of the cooperative Other Dimensions In Music. Together with his wife, Patricia Nicholson Parker, he organizes the annual Vision Festival in New York City.

The album Sound Unity by the William Parker Quartet was chosen as one of Amazon.com's Top 100 Editor's Picks of 2005. His August 2008 CD Double Sunrise over Neptune was listed as one of the top 10 2008 (through end of August) Jazz CDs at Amazon.[2] Also released in 2008, Petit Oiseau was chosen as one of the best jazz disks of 2008 by The Wall Street Journal,[3] the BBC's Radio Three,[4] The Village Voice,[5] and PopMatters.[6]

In 2006, Parker was awarded the Resounding Vision Award from Nameless Sound. In March 2007, his book, Who Owns Music?, was published by buddy's knife jazzedition in Cologne, Germany. Who Owns Music? assembles his political thoughts, poems, and musicological essays. In June 2011, Parker's second book, Conversations, a collection of interviews with notable free jazz musicians and forward thinkers, mainly from the African-American community, was published by Rogue Art.[7]


As leader

As sideman

With Fred Anderson

With Derek Bailey and John Zorn

With Billy Bang

With Albert Beger

  • Evolving Silence, Vol. 1 (2005)
  • Evolving Silence, Vol. 2 (2006)

With Peter Brötzmann

  • Sacred Scrape, Secret Response (Rastascan, 1994)
  • Nothung (In Tone Music, 2002)
  • Never Too Late But Always Too Early (Eremite, 2003)
  • The Bishop's Move (Les Disques Victo, 2004)

With Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet

  • Stone/Water (Okka Disk, 2002)
  • Short Visit To Nowhere (Okka Disk, 2002)
  • Broken English (Okka Disk, 2002)

With Rob Brown

With Roy Campbell, Joe McPhee & Warren Smith

With Daniel Carter and Federico Ughi

  • LIVE! (577 Records, 2017)
  • Navajo Sunrise (Rudi Records. 2013)
  • The Dream (577 Records, 2006)

With Gerald Cleaver and Craig Taborn

With 'Die Like A Dog' Quartet

  • Die Like a Dog: Fragments of Music, Life and Death of Albert Ayler (FMP, 1994)
  • Close Up (FMP, 1994 [2011])
  • Little Birds Have Fast Hearts, No. 1 (FMP, 1998)
  • Little Birds Have Fast Hearts, No. 2 (FMP, 1999)
  • From Valley to Valley (Eremite, 1999)
  • Aoyama Crows (FMP, 2002)

With Bill Dixon

With Marco Eneidi

With Charles Gayle

With Frode Gjerstad

  • Seeing New York From The Ear (Cadence Jazz Records, 1996)
  • Remember To Forget (Circulasione Totale, 1998)
  • Ultima (Cadence Jazz Records, 1999)
  • The Other Side (Ayler Records, 2006)
  • On Reade Street (FMR Records, 2008)

With Alan Glover

  • Kings Of Infinite Space (Omolade Music 2006)
  • The Juice Quartet Archives (Omolade Music 2010)

With Wayne Horvitz

With Kidd Jordan

  • Palm Of Soul (AUM Fidelity, 2006)

With Gianni Lenoci

  • Secret Garden (Silta)

With Jimmy Lyons

With Raphe Malik

With Michael Marcus

  • Under The Wire (Enja, 1990)

With Thollem McDonas & Nels Cline

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Jemeel Moondoc

With Joe Morris

With Other Dimensions In Music

With Ivo Perelman

With Matthew Shipp

With Steve Swell

With Cecil Taylor

With David S Ware



  • 2001 - Inside Out in the Open (2001). Directed by Alan Roth. Asymmetric Pictures. Distributed by Third World Newsreel.


  1. Blumenfeld, Larry (2002-05-26). "Music; A Father to the Followers of Free Jazz". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-05. Mr. Parker and his wife, the dancer Patricia Nicholson, began the [Vision Festival] seven years ago. Yet his influence runs much deeper than the recording studio or the bandstand. He is something of a father figure, dispensing life lessons as well as wisdom about musical technique.
  2. "Best Jazz of 2008". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  3. Blumenfeld, Larry (2008-12-27). "The Best Musicians Span Continents, Generations, by Larry Blumenfeld". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  4. "Jazz on 3, Best Albums of the Year". Bbc.co.uk. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  5. Francis Davis (2008-12-31). "2008 ''Voice'' Jazz Poll Winners". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  6. Layman, Will. "The Best Jazz of 2008, by Will Layman". Popmatters.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  7. "William Parker Conversations". Retrieved 25 January 2012.
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