ERROL PARKER TENTET - A NIGHT IN TUNISIA
(Sahara Records, 1991)
Algeria-born pianist/drummer /composer and arranger Ralph Schecroun (aka Errol Parker) ranks among the most underrated modern jazz creators. He was a true original like Sun Ra and a few others, musicians who cannot be easily categorized and pigeonholed.
Mostly self-taught on piano, he moved to Paris in 1947 to study sculpture but was soon playing jazz. Parker (under his original name Raph Schecroun) recorded on sessions led by Kenny Clarke, James Moody, and Django Reinhardt, and played off and on with Don Byas during 1956-1958. He recorded some commercial music on organ in 1960 and then, to escape from an exclusive contract so as to record jazz versions of Top 40 material on piano, he used the pseudonym Errol Parker. The latter records sold so well that he permanently changed his name. In 1963, Errol Parker was the victim of a car accident which let him badly injured and almost put a term to his career as a pianist due to a loss of dexterity and speed. He didn’t give up music though. In 1968, he emigrated to New York and started experimenting with new musical forms. Utilizing poly-tonality (playing in two keys at once), simultaneous soloing, and his own drumming (which achieves an African sound by substituting a conga for the snare drum), Parker's tentet sounded unlike any other group. Although he kept on playing piano occasionally, especially electric piano, he became more and more interested in percussions and reconverted as a drummer, a bit out of necessity as he couldn’t find a drummer who could play his complex rhythmic structures.
In 1982, while teaching at the Williamsburg Music Center, he formed a big band that eventually became his tentet. Due to the eight horns he utilized, Parker stopped playing piano except for solo engagements and stuck to drums. His recordings (which include a solo piano tribute to Thelonious Monk) utilized such sidemen as Robin Eubanks, Wallace Roney, Donald Harrison, Steve Coleman, Graham Haynes, Philip Harper, Byard Lancaster, and Jimmy Owens, among others. Parker died of liver cancer on June 2, 1998.
(Source: Scott Yarrow-AMG and Wikipedia and Errol Parker's autobiography).
Errol Parker Tentet - A Night in Tunisia (1991), OOP CD.
If you 're interested in knowing more about the life and career of Ralph Schecroun / Errol Parker, read his autobiography.