Rick Parker Collective: New York Gravity (2005)
New York Gravity is an object lesson in how hard bop may be kept applicable to the 21st Century. There isn't a false or dishonest note on the entire album. Instead of recycling the improvisational or compositional strategies of the early 1960s, these musicians dance through a rigorous array of changing time signatures and hip chord changes that could only exist here and now. At the same time, they swing with a ferocity and focus that could only have arisen from the spirited application of the lessons of the original hard boppers themselves.
Young trombonist Rick Parker is yet another powerful young jazz musician to be reckoned with. His tone is sturdy, even massive at times. He has imposing chops but he doesn't flaunt them; in this he recalls Grachan Moncur III. The inventive variety of his compositions, with their shifting time signatures, may also bring Moncur to mind. The sidemen are similarly impressive. Although saxophonist Charis Ioannou, for example, may initially recall Joe Henderson, he splashes notes around in a personal and promising fashion.
But the Rick Parker Collective is a working unit, and it is as a band that they make their strongest showing, and their best impression. They play as if gliding on well-oiled ball bearings, smoothly negotiating the tricky twists and turns of Parker's tunes. They sound very together and they swing hard. The tempo and thematic transitions are flawlessly executed. Whether it's the crackling swing of "Transitation" or the urgent push of "Going Out," New York Gravity sounds strong throughout. The Rick Parker Collective is ready.
Track Listing: New York Gravity; Experiment in Mist-ery; Filmaker; Thank You; On The Move; Transitation; The New Path; The Exit; Going Out; 10/31 At Dusk.
Personnel: Rick Parker, trombone; Charis Ioannou, soprano and tenor sax, bass clarinet; Andrew Haskell, piano, electric piano; Matt Grason, bass; Kyle Struve drums. Special Guest: Thad Wilson, trumpet, Flugelhorn.