Sean Parsons: Introduction (2011)
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Pianist Sean Parsons has put together an eclectic album of originals, offering the opportunity for an unpredictable listening journey. Introduction kicks off with the modern, 12-tone "Skylines," effectively setting the stage for the next eight tracks. Parsons distinguishes himself early on, with a driving solo that is both controlled and free, with crystal-clear articulation. Bop trumpeter James Moore flies through the changes with long phrases and attention to stylistic detail that compliments Parsons. Saxophonist Craig Treinan takes a different approach with his husky tenor, offering an appealing contrast before bassist Toby Curtright makes an attempt at the free-blowing progression.
The album switches gears to Curtright's serene "For Us This is the End of it All." Parsons plays with sensitivity and patience, before demonstrating impressive technique and a keen harmonic sense with his ambitious "Ethology." An angular melody is followed by a relentless piano solo before being taken over by a showcase of drummer Ken Tackett's clean and dynamic talent.
Parsons is rejoined by trumpet and tenor on his straightforward "Introduction Blues." The entire group sounds right at home after being thrown into a familiar setting. Moore's cleanly polished phrasing is full of melodic gems and serves as a guidebook for how to play straight-ahead with impeccable style and time. Parsons steps outside conventional blues, venturing into less-traveled harmonic areas, as he provides insight to his voice as a modern jazz musician.
"When I See Her Again" features Parsons' vocals on an unpredictable and haunting melody. This tune may not be a tour-de-force for a vocalist, but Parsons digs in when he shifts his focus to the piano, with some of the trio's best chemistry heard underneath his solo. "Her Name," along with "Ethology," is probably the most characteristic of Parsons' sound: athletic, sharp, and mature. This maturity is especially evident in "Introspection," a dark, easy swinger that is attentively arranged, creating an enticing palette of colors that both stand alone and blend.
Curtright lends another original, "But He Himself Was Broken," taking the lead with his chorus-laden bass as Parsons and Tackett provide an underlying infectious groove. Parsons concludes the album alone with a two-piano "Lullabye," that is simple in comparison to the other tracks, but reveals a previously unheard depth of expression.
Throughout Introduction, Parsons refuses to let his playing become confined by any parameters. His multifaceted approach to both composition and improvisation lends itself well to a first album, offering the opportunity to fully understand where he comes from, while leaving a question mark as to where he will go next.
Track Listing: Skylines; For Us This is the End of All Stories; Ethology; Introduction Blues; When I See Her Again; Her Name; Introspection; But He Himself Was Broken; Lullabye.
Personnel: Sean Parsons: piano; Toby Curtright: bass; Ken Tackett: drums; James Moore: trumpet (1, 4, 7); Craig Treinan: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 7).
Record Label: Self Produced