Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

622

Aaron Parks: Invisible Cinema

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
If ever there were a supporting case for the importance of mentoring in jazz, it would be Aaron Parks. The pianist began playing with trumpeter Terence Blanchard in 2003 at the age of 18 and, over the course of three albums culminating in last year's deeply moving A Tale of God's Will (Blue Note, 2007), has grown into a mature player whose early promise is already being realized. With inimitable technique and open ears, he seems to have bypassed the youthful peril where technique is the end rather than the means. On his debut as a leader, Parks proves himself a player and composer of great depth, with a truly cinematic vision that embraces the challenge of complexity as much as it does the demand of creating simple, evocative melodies.

Parks has recruited a stellar group of rising stars for Invisible Cinema. Guitarist Mike Moreno's Between the Lines (World Culture Music, 2007) was a masterful debut, demonstrating similar maturity beyond his age and an embracive approach blending tradition with progressive elements. The increasingly in-demand bassist Matt Penman marries pulse and melody, matching Parks' ability to shift from knotty rhythms to near-folkloric innocence. Drummer Eric Harland's broad reach has found him equally comfortable with the spiritually invested free play of saxophonist Charles Lloyd's Rabo de Nube (ECM, 2008) and the more explosive energy of guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel's The Remedy (ArtistShare, 2008). Together, they're a flexible quartet that blends the language of jazz with more contemporary and, at times, powerful indie rock concerns.

The opening "Travelers" marries ethereality with fervency in equal doses, Parks' solo a marvel of layered spontaneity that leans towards classicism in addition to jazz orthodoxy. A trio track where Harland and Penman push the insistent groove with nuance rather than overt power, it sets a high bar for the rest of the disc.

Moreno joins for the episodic "Peaceful Warrior," where lyricism and Pat Metheny-esque expansiveness still allow plenty of freedom. Parks and Moreno trade lengthy choruses over its 9/8 middle section, Penman and Harland pushing and pulling the two soloists as they weave in and around the changes.

If Radiohead were more sophisticated they might record a track like "Nemesis." Harland's backbeat and Parks' repetitive piano figure drive Moreno's sharp, overdriven melody, another solo section where guitar and piano again alternate, hypnotically building the energy. Piano is Parks' main axe, but here he layers mellotron, glockenspiel and additional keyboards to create an image-rich soundscape. The group revisits "Harvesting Dance," from Blanchard's Flow (Blue Note, 2005), but Parks' smaller line-up breathes more, its Spanish ambience building into a fiery solo from Moreno that's a highlight of the disc.

For an artist not yet 25, Invisible Cinema is refreshingly fully formed—amongst the year's best releases, it represents one possible future of jazz. With plenty to appeal to long-term, open-minded jazz fans, Parks' incorporation of familiar reference points also makes it a good bet to attract younger listeners.

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), Matt Penman: bass (1-4, 6-9); Eric Harland: drums (1-4, 6-9).

Title: Invisible Cinema | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Green With Envy" CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Volume III: Magnetic Cycles" CD/LP/Track Review Volume III: Magnetic Cycles
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Astoria Roots Live" CD/LP/Track Review Astoria Roots Live
by James Nadal
Published: May 17, 2017
Read "Amour Cruel" CD/LP/Track Review Amour Cruel
by Peter Jurew
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Bandit 65" CD/LP/Track Review Bandit 65
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 13, 2017