Jeff Parker's second session as a leader, The Relatives, surprises by taking easygoing mainstream flavors and, stirring with spice, manages to honor the forms while tweaking them. Parker's regular rhythm section, Chris Lopes on bass and NY-Chicago drum machine Chad Taylor on percussion, keep the momentum crisp. Parker's earnest and deliberate delivery plays off space, often adding the right pinch of Grant Green.
Frothy wah-wahed chords yawn through Taylor's brushed cymbals on "Istanbul. Parker winds a wiry line around the atmospheric accompaniment. Sam Barsheshet revisits his days in a Herbie Hancock cover band on Parker's "Mannerisms. His splashy electric piano invites clear measured musing from Parker. His candy-toned keyboard solo keeps the sweet soul jazz riff pumping.
Lopes' "Sea Change takes the bassist to challenging unisons with Parker and a dexterous workout on his own. Marvin Gaye's "When Did You Stop Loving Me gets a solidly swinging interpretation with Barsheshet brisk on the cool keys, and Parker's double-tracked guitar skates through the changes.
Lopes' "Beanstalk features the composer on flute for a Ben Allison feel. Parker dances through the sunny tune, the rhythm section percolating along. Mostly percussion and flanged guitar, "The Relative references physics more than family. When the Latin-tinged groove coalesces, Parker overdubs his thematic variances.
Toy Boat keeps the band in tight step for Parker's economical and unpredictable additions. "Rang sets a two-note pattern that allows Taylor to stretch out impressively. Lopes explores the poles, and Barsheshet detours into radiant shimmer.
With accessible, catchy melodies and enthusiastic performances, Parker and company make it a pleasure to have The Relatives stay for awhile.
Track Listing: Istanbul; Mannerisms; Sea Change; When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You;
Beanstalk; The Relative; Toy Boat; Rang
Personnel: Jeff Parker, guitar; Chris Lopes, bass; Chad Taylor, drums; Sam Barsheshet, electric piano.