Matt Parker Trio: Present Time

Karl Ackermann By

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Following the well-deserved critical praise for his sextet debut, Worlds Put Together (BYNK Records, 2013), saxophonist/composer Matt Parker returns with a core trio and guests on Present Time. Former classmates from NYC's New School, bassist Alan Hampton and drummer Reggie Quinerly, join Parker on seven original compositions. One standard dating back to 1930 (and Louis Armstrong's first significant recording) along with a previously unrecorded Charles Mingus composition fill out the program.

Parker is a Florida native now residing in New York City where he fronts or plays in a host of groups. His move to NYC has afforded him the opportunity to form connections with Jane Ira Bloom, Reggie Workman and others while also playing synthesizer, flute and clarinet in Mikkel Hess' Danish band "Hess Is More." Parker's broad resume also includes performances with The Mingus Big Band and Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band. Only in his mid-thirties, Parker's resume is global in scope and quite impressive.

Present Time opens with "Noah's Arc" and its bluesy swing is a great place to hear and appreciate Parker's deep fluid playing and mastery of rhythm changes. Switching from tenor to soprano on "New Horizons," Parker brings to mind the experimental approaches of Sam Newsome. Inspired by Duke Ellington, "One for Duke" has an exotic eastern feel while "Winter's Gone" is a soulful duet for tenor and Emily Braden 's ethereal vocal. "I'm Confessing (That I love You)," the previously mentioned standard, is treated with a nostalgic respect but closes out in a freer and unexpected swing mode.

Sue Mingus gave the title "Song To Keki" to her husband's unrecorded lullaby to their daughter but in the hands of Parker, Hampton and Quinerly, the piece expands into more avant-garde territory. Parker allows himself free rein to wail a bit on "Present Time" while Hampton and Quinerly have their own time to shine through the multiple time changes. An impromptu entry, "The Gong," uses the resonating tone of the instrument to introduce his improved solos on soprano and tenor. The album closes with "Sixteen," another brief number; this one channeling both Coleman Hawkins and Albert Ayler depending on where you drop the needle.

On his debut album, Parker established that he is not married to a particular style or influence. Worlds Put Together does nothing to dispel that impression and yet with all the variety on this album, Parker ties together the loose pieces and complexity of his concept around the pliability of time. There's an ease to the working relationships of Parker, Hampton and Quinerly that becomes palpable in the listening experience.

A sidebar: the order of the third and fourth tracks on the CD are reversed as printed on the jacket, as are the times for each of those tracks.

Track Listing: Noah's Arc; New Horizons; Winter's Gone; One For Duke; I'm Confessin' (That I Love You); Song To Keki; Present Time; The Gong.

Personnel: Matt Parker: saxophones; Alan Hampton: bass; Reggie Quinerly: drums; Emily Braden: vocals (3,5,7); Jerome Jennings: tambourine (9).

Title: Present Time | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: BYNK Records

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