Rick Parker: Finding His Own Space
AAJ: That's really evident, because this music is not head-solo-head. This is music with a lot of shifting tempospieces that sound totally different at the beginning and end. It really sounds like these folks have played this music before, or it probably wouldn't be possible to hang with it.
RP: Definitely. Whenever someone can't do the gig, it can be difficult to get things together. Kyle, for instance, has been playing with me since the first CD, since I moved up to New York in 2001. So we've been playing together almost six years. He never needs [sheet] music on a gig. It's really complicated stuff. It makes sense, but you have to get into my concepts and how the melodies work. Otherwise when you're reading the music, it looks a lot more complicated than it really is. And Xavier, we just connected immediately, and he knows what's going on.
Sam's time with Avishai Cohenwe lived together right about the time that Avishai was forming the trio with Sam and drummer Mark Giuliana. They rehearsed in our apartment. Avishai never wrote down the music. He always teaches them by ear. Sam has a really uncanny way of learning music. He's a fantastic reader, but once he's got that down, he can just put the paper aside and really go with it.
AAJ: Are these tunes even more extended live? Many of them are seven or eight minutes on the record. Or are they composed with a set framework?
RP: Some of the things do get a little extended, but the focus on the CD is about composition. I consider myself a musician and composer and then maybe trombone player. I don't think of myself as a trombone player per se. I just want to be a musician, and as such, I go with the compositions themselves. When we perform them, it's the same thing. When I did this record, unlike the first record, I tried to let people stretch out. I tried to make it feel as organic as possibleas much like a live show as possiblebecause I felt like every person had a lot to say and something valuable to say on the songs. So I wanted to make sure that happened. I didn't want it to be "very intricate composition and then short solo." That's not what the music's about. It's about a melody and a tune, then the solo is really part of that.
AAJ: This album is anchored by the three-part suite "Finding Space." You mentioned that many of your tunes have a back-story. Take us to the DVD extras on "Finding Space."
RP: When I first moved to New York, I was living in this really tiny studio which was just so ... tiny. I was in the West Village, and I had to leave the space a lot. And I'm not the neatest person in the world, so that made it even more cluttered. The beginning of "Finding Space" is about bouncing off the walls and feeling trapped. You're just going in all these different directions.
Later on, it goes to a solo piano piece. That's more about finding the tranquility and finding a center where you can just be yourself and be calm. The final piece, which has no solos, is meant to be the triumphant feeling of getting through and overcoming obstaclesthe small spaces that you deal with in New York City.
All photos courtesy of Rick Parker