Least we forget, jazz was once popular music. Not something that required a degree in music theory to appreciate, nor merely a ‘quiet storm’ of background soundtrack for your office cubicle. It seems the young cats today, the likes of Ben Allison, Matt Wilson, and Charlie Hunter, desire to come down from the lofty perch jazz inhabits. Count the slightly lesser known (but most deserving) Andy Parsons among this new breed.
A semifinalist in the 2002 Thelonious Monk Competition, Parsons studied under Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Mintzer, and Bobby Watson. He has recorded several discs in collaboration with drummer Gene Lewin under the name Fundementia.
Their reunion here includes the heavyweight bassists John Patitucci (Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter), and Ben Monder (Paul Motian, Tim Ries, Patrick Zimmerli). Parsons composed all the music here except for the standard “East Of The Sun.” Flip is reminiscent of the late 1980s recordings of John Scofield & Joe Lovano for Blue Note Records, in that the quartet keeps both feet in jazz terra firma but aspire to make fans of non-jazz music (read: rock) take notice.
In fact Parsons has that Lovano tenor sound from twenty years ago. Maybe it’s the presence of Monder, but his saxophone work flows with a grooving ease. The title track sounds almost like an organ trio, warming you to this outing. The band delivers a continuous saxophone wrapped by guitar throughout with Monder stepping out several times for casual, yet calculated solos. On “Lot Of Our Souls” His ‘anger’ rises and is bathed by Parson and drummer Gene Lewin’s furious activity. Lewin is as comfortable working with the pop band GrooveLily as playing jazz. His gift lies in his frenzied dynamo attack of cymbals and skins. Think Tony Williams sits in with Weather Report.
A spin of this disc is quite a delight. Oh yeah, that is (was) what jazz is supposed to be all about...
Track Listing: Flip; Alone In The Loveseat; Tookish; Lot Of Our Souls; Miss Conception; Year Out; East Of The Sun
(And West Of The Moon); Which Thousand Words; Load Cycle; Sintigo.
Personnel: Andy Parsons - Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone; Ben Monder - Guitar; John Patitucci - Bass;
Gene Lewin - Drums.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.