"Somebody once asked me to find two words that describe the music I make, and the words I picked were ‘spontaneous’ and ‘cinematic,’” says Aaron Parks. Having clarified the essence of his art, the pianist kept those two words closely in mind while conceiving and recording Invisible Cinema, his extraordinary debut for the Blue Note label. In its virtuosity and harmonic complexity, Invisible Cinema speaks to Parks’s immersion in jazz on the highest level, even as it references a wider world of contemporary music-making.
“The title has a lot of different meanings,” notes the 24- year-old Seattle native, who is currently based in Brooklyn. “For one thing, Invisible Cinema is what music is, in a sense. You can’t see it. But there’s all this drama between the musicians, all these stories that can be told. Also, I was thinking about actual cinema, and this album has a story line that I wouldn’t spell out to anybody, because I want to leave it open to interpretation. But for me there’s a narration in the sequence and song titles and everything.”
Parks came to the attention of Blue Note during his five- year tenure with Terence Blanchard, during which he appeared on three of the trumpeter’s acclaimed Blue Note albums: Bounce, Flow and A Tale of God’s Will. Parks is now delighted to follow the example of another Blanchard alum, Lionel Loueke, who debuted on Blue Note with the evocative album Karibu in March 2008. “I’m thrilled to be a part not only of the classic Blue Note legacy, but also the new legacy, which includes Terence, Lionel, Robert Glasper, Jason Moran, Cassandra Wilson and so many great artists,” Parks enthuses.
Invisible Cinema finds Parks in excellent form as both a soloist and composer, buoyed by the support of guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. Together and apart, these players have assumed roles at the forefront of jazz in the new millennium. Harland has made lasting music with Geri Allen, the legendary Charles Lloyd and of course Terence Blanchard, in whose band Harland first encountered the young Aaron Parks. Moreno, fast becoming one of the most sought-after plectrists of his generation, featured Parks on his own acclaimed debut album, Between the Lines. Penman, Harland and Parks were also heard to great effect on the bassist’s 2007 release, Catch of the Day.
Parks recalls a Harland-led quartet tour of Japan, with Penman and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, as “one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life. Playing with that rhythm section is so easy. They just fit each other like a glove.” If Penman and Harland were a natural choice for Invisible Cinema, Mike Moreno was the puzzle piece that brought it to completion. “With the guitar quartet, these songs really started to make sense to me,” Parks notes. “It was exactly the sonic environment I needed. Mike and I have played together with Kendrick Scott, in John Ellis’s band and so many other contexts. There’s this lyricism about his playing that I’m really into.”