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Live Reviews

Montreal Jazz Festival: Days 1-3 July 1-3, 2009

By Published: July 5, 2009


July 3: Aaron Parks Trio



Since emerging in his late teens with mentor Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
, appearing on the trumpeter's outstanding Flow (Blue Note, 2005) ambitious A Tale of God's Will (Requiem for Katrina) (Blue Note, 2007) , as well as live shows including a powerful performance at the 2005 Ottawa Jazz Festival, pianist Aaron Parks
Aaron Parks
Aaron Parks
b.1983
piano
' star has been on the rise. His debut as a leader, Invisible Cinema (Blue Note, 2008), deservingly hit many reviewers' "best of" lists for the year, proving that mentoring works. Parks, now in his mid-twenties, has rapidly evolved a personal voice that references the abstract impressionism of Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
—with whom he worked on Flow—while never losing sight of individualism and identity.

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal / Aaron Parks Trio



Parks' 70-minute set at the new L'Astral, a roughly 350-seat concert venue in the new Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, only included two tracks from Invisible Cinema, the subtly propulsive "Travelers" and softer "Afterglow," both providing further evidence of the pianist's continuing and rapid evolution, as he and his trio—bassist Matt Brewer

Matt Brewer
Matt Brewer
b.1983
bass
and drummer Ted Poor
Ted Poor
Ted Poor

drums
—stretched it into something considerably more open than the studio version. Poor, in particular—who seems to be popping up everywhere these days, playing with everyone from guitarist Ben Monder
Ben Monder
Ben Monder
b.1962
guitar
and his outrageously inventive Oceana (Sunnyside, 2005) and equally fearless trumpeter Cuong Vu
Cuong Vu
Cuong Vu
b.1969
trumpet
and the highly eclectic Vu-Tet (ArtistShare, 2008)— was an outstanding accompanist, demonstrating a broad palette and open ears that lent even a well-heeled standard like Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' "Solar" a fresh perspective that swung in its own distinct way.



Brewer, another increasingly ubiquitous player, acted as the grounding force between Parks' often ethereal approach and Poor's equally searching method of interaction. He was also a fluid soloist and fine composer, whose "Lunar Incandescence" was an early high point of the set.



Parks was impeccable, constantly on the lookout for new ways to express a clear as disposition towards the lyrical. Even on the Midwestern-tinged set close, "In a Garden," the pianist found ways to reference folkloric ideation with a more modernistic bent. As a leader, he quickly engaged the audience with a dryly absurd sense of self-deprecating humor, describing his longtime relationship with Brewer as one where they each know "some deep, dark secrets," and apologizing for a bad hair day.

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal / Aaron Parks Trio l:r Matt Brewer, Ted Poor



A poetic player who has surrounded himself with others who can either provide a more earthy balance or match his more impressionistic approach, Parks is a remarkably mature player for his age—though, at this point, it's really unfair to use the age card. As he demonstrated during his interview clip on the recent four-part television series Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense (Paradigm Studio, 2009), he's a deep thinker with very specific ideas about his direction, one that he's honing at an almost unprecedented rate, and resulted in a fine FIJM performance that will go down as one of the sleeper hits of 2009.

Visit Eric Truffaz, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Sadao Watanabe, Sylvain Provost and Effendi Records, Aaron Parks and Festival International de Jazz de Montreal on the web.


Photo Credits

All Photos: John Kelman



Days 1-3 | Days 4-6 | Days 7-9



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