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Rick Parker Collective: Finding Space

Dan McClenaghan By

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You gotta love a good album cover, even if a photo of a big goofy-looking dog has nothing to do with the music. But why not—Matt Jorgensen did it with Hope (Origin Records, '04), and there was some first-rate modern-leaning stuff on that disc. The same goes for the Rick Parker Collective's Finding Space.

Parker is a young—not yet thirty years old—New York-based trombonist with some serious chops; but it's his bandleading and composing skills that stand out most. He was a winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award for '04/'05, and those skills shine on Finding Space, an all-original set.

His tunes all tell stories that change pace and switch narrators and twist and turn, rise and fall, change gears and generally keep the listener off balance, sliding from the pastoral to the prickly within the same song, avoiding the predictable at every step. Lots of surprises, lots of fabulously inspired soloing all around, from saxophonist Xavier Perez, keyboardist Sam Barsh and the leader, along with special guests Maurice Brown (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Jaleel Shaw (alto sax).

That said, the group is a "collective." Sometimes there is a classical feel, a cerebral sound coming from the collective gut. The atmosphere reminds me of Grachan Moncur III's sound, mixed in with some Andrew Hill—fluid and ever-shifting momentum and abstract beauty that keeps the mainstream in sight.

This is just Parker's second set as a leader—his first was New York Gravity (Fresh Sound New Talent, '04). On Finding Space he proves himself a major talent on the rise.


Track Listing: McKibbin; Nervous Energy; Lost in the Woodshed; Three Steps From Village A; Gavin's Prelude; Roots; Finding Space; Euro Ring.

Personnel: Rick Parker: trombone; Xavier Perez: saxophones; Sam Barsh: piano, nord electro; Gavin Fallow: bass; Kyle Struve: drums. Special Guests: Maurice Brown: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jaleel Shaw: trumpet.

Title: Finding Space | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: WJF Records

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