Happily, trombone-led sessions are making a comeback in modern jazz circles these days, and a listen to the Rick Parker Collective's New York Gravity
provides ample evidence of why. A relative newcomer to the NYC environs, Parker has put together a disc with a swinging little big band feel intertwined with a hard bop modernistic edge. Of course it doesn't hurt that trumpeter Thad Wilson, leader of his own big band, and Charis Ioannou on saxophones and bass clarinet, sync with Parker in a way that engenders a substantial group sound.
Completing Parker's Collective are keyboardist Andrew Haskell and a rhythm section consisting of bassist Matt Grason and drummer Kyle Struve. All of these players, especially Parker and Haskell, are adept at moving in and out as Grason and Struve create compelling corners of rhythm to highlight in-your-face brass voicings or make for more subtle individual soloing.
Don't get the idea that this is safe mainstream fare, as there are plenty of moments in these ten newly composed pieces that surprise. Wilson's title cut awakens with an initial burst of brass before he solos over a pumping rhythmic backdrop. Ioannou's tenor initiates a wild ride through NYC with each instrumental solo cued by a changing tempo. Parker is a smooth t-bonist who is equally at home bopping along, joining in the chorus, creating a bluesy feel, as he does on "Experiment in Mist-ery, or ironing out the creases, as on "MC Filmmaker. Both "The Exit and "On the Move, with their irregular melodic moods, feature Parker's compositional skills front and center, while his "10/31 at Dusk is a quirky shifting take on the Greenwich Village Halloween parade. New York Gravity, with its complex compositions, inventive voicings, and varying rhythmic landscapes, is a force to be reckoned with.
Personnel: Rick Parker - trombone; Charis Ioannou - soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet; Andrew Haskell - piano and Fender Rhodes; Matt Grason - bass; Kyle Struve - drums; Thad Wilson - trumpet and flugelhorn.