442

Aaron Parks: Invisible Cinema

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Aaron Parks: Invisible Cinema Best known for his five-year tenure with trumpeter Terence Blanchard, pianist Aaron Parks is the second Blanchard graduate to debut under his own name on Blue Note in 2008. His disc follows percussionist Lionel Loueke's Karibu (Blue Note, 2008), a fitfully engaging album flawed by trying too hard. Invisible Cinema by contrast is a corker, a caveat-free fairground ride in forward-looking piano jazz winningly spiced with a little prog rock.



Parks played on three Blanchard albums—including the outstanding New Orleans lament A Tale Of God's Will (Blue Note, 2007)—and shares Blanchard's cinematic approach to composing and arranging. The tunes, all of them originals, project vivid atmospheres and emotions, precisely but unfussily arranged, layered, and textured. With a couple of exceptions, Parks' template is a prettily melodic theme leisurely unfolding over the rapid-fire, funky-martial staccato of Eric Harland's snare drum. Bassist Matt Penman locks onto Harland, guitarist Mike Moreno onto Parks. Moreno and Parks generally play the themes in unison, at the treble ends of their instruments, before Parks, the chief soloist, buys into the rhythmic intensity of the bass and drums, rocketing joyously over the beat. Whatever the speed or temperature, lyricism is key.



Moreno solos on only four tracks, but at between 6:21 and 9:46 they're the longest on the disc and its centerpieces. "Peaceful Warrior" and "Karma" are the closest the album gets to straight-ahead jazz, with more or less conventional theme/solos/theme structures. Moreno, who made his own debut with Between The Lines (World Culture Music, 2007), with Parks in the line-up, is as ringingly lyrical an improviser as the pianist, and on both tracks turns out cascades of melody reminiscent of Pat Metheny at his most fleet-fingered and ecstatic.

On the multi-part "Nemesis" and "Harvesting Dance," two brilliantly successful flirtations with prog rock, Moreno reveals a different face, by turns blues-rocking and surf-twangy (on "Nemesis") and flamenco-esque and ethereal (on "Harvesting Dance"). Without over-egging the main event, Parks layers a host of keyboards, including mellotron and glockenspiel, on both tracks, which in further certified prog style also feature some unorthodox beats.



There are four shorter tracks, each lasting less than three minutes. "Riddle Me This" and "Roadside Distraction," the first quirky, the second funky, would stand up as instrumental singles if such things still existed; catchy group workouts staying close to the topline and foursquare on the groove. "Into The Labyrinth" and "Afterglow" are for solo piano, impressionistic little meditations.



Horticultural note: the shrub photographed on the back page of the liner pull-out looks at a glance like a cannabis plant, but on close inspection isn't. Everything else about Invisible Cinema is the real deal.


Track Listing: Travelers; Peaceful Warrior; Nemesis; Riddle Me This; Into The Labyrinth; Karma; Roadside Distraction; Harvesting Dance; Praise; Afterglow.

Personnel: Aaron Parks: piano, mellotron (3), glockenspiel (3), keyboards (3, 5, 6, 8); Mike Moreno: guitar (2-4, 6-9).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Sign of the Crow" CD/LP/Track Review Sign of the Crow
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" CD/LP/Track Review Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4" CD/LP/Track Review Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Follow The Stick" CD/LP/Track Review Follow The Stick
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 18, 2016
Read "More Than Meets The Ear" CD/LP/Track Review More Than Meets The Ear
by Troy Collins
Published: February 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!