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 The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Sunrain" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrain
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "The Eastcote Studios Session" CD/LP/Track Review The Eastcote Studios Session
by John Eyles
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Live At Umbria Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Umbria Jazz
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "The Soul Jazz Beat Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Soul Jazz Beat Vol. 2
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "Diachronic Paths" CD/LP/Track Review Diachronic Paths
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 15, 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!