Bradley Parker-Sparrow: We Are Not Machines (2002)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Chicago has espoused a long line of creative artists in more than a century of artistic prominence. Combining creative music with thought-provoking lyrics, however, seems to have been a specialty with The Windy City. Jazz, blues, beat poetry, and rap have each made inroads. Sparrow employs each on his latest adventurous album. One is as effective as the other. At Southport's web site , we learn that, "What began as the film score for John Covert's new thriller, Watch, melded into a musical/social commentary on the current state of the modern music industry. This is not jazz. This is not pop. This is SPARROWMUSIC." And what creative music it is!

Southport lists 65 creative artists on its roster . You'll recognize many of the names. Their mission is to promote Chicago's brand of contemporary music. The spoken word is clearly understood and often quite frank. Like many film scores, Sparrow's compositions depict moods – most of them somber. The world is his palette, however, as the leader employs all kinds of vocalized ideas. The sampled voices of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy stand side-by-side with a collage of foreign tongues. Joanie Pallatto's soulful lyric interpretation stands toe-to-toe with her spicy scat singing and verbalized flute dynamics. Rick Kogan's Chicago accent rears its head, as he recites beat poetry with a personal message. Sparrow even includes one raunchy rap number to voice his dissatisfaction with the way things have been going. Jazz has to grow. Folks like Sparrow and Joanie Pallatto are here to make sure it will.

Track Listing: Watch; Before the Voice; Softly, Child . . . Watch; Bleak; Watch Me; The President's Prelude; Cut Off the Head of Eminem and Stick it up his Butt!; Epilogue; Don't Pity the Mirror; Little John; Tell Me; Before the Time; Lounge Trio; Solo Piano Watch, One; Broken; Winter I Will Watch; Cell-Drums; Solo Piano Watch, Two; Frantic Theme; Bach-like Watch; Lounging, Again; We Are Not Machines.

Personnel: Bradley Parker-Sparrow- piano, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals, voice; Joanie Pallatto- voice, vocals, wooden flutes, shakers, tambourine, rainstick, ocarina, keyboard bass; Larry Gray- acoustic bass, cello; Tatsu Aoki- acoustic bass, voice; John E. Magnan- electric bass; Alejo Poveda- drums, congas, timbales; Billy Brimfield- trumpets; Ann O'Riordan, Ellen O'Riordan, Paulinho Garcia, Angelo Demetriou, Tomas de Utrera, Chris J. Parker, Rick Kogan- voice.

Record Label: Southport Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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