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Aaron Parks on Music, Mathematics and Making the Scene

Leo Sidran BY

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How does pianist Aaron Parks describe himself? "A bit odd. I play piano, write songs, and take pictures of doors with my phone."

Raised on a small island near Seattle, Washington, Aaron found himself hungry for more creative and intellectual stimulation than his immediate surroundings could offer. He enrolled in college at the age of 14, studying music, math and computer science. It wasn't long before he dropped the math and computer stuff and focused on music; he moved to New York at age 16 to study at the Manhattan School of Music, and by age 18 he was playing, recording and touring in Terence Blanchard's band.

So, yeah, a bit odd.

Besides playing with Blanchard, Parks has performed with a variety of artists including trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, drummer Kendrick Scott, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, and others. Parks has released several albums under his own name, including his 2008 Blue Note debut, Invisible Cinema and his latest project Little Big.

We met in Brooklyn on one of the coldest days of the year to talk about composition ("I love perfect asymmetry"), mathematics, thinking about touch, and no longer being the youngest person in the room.

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