In the vernacular, to "parrot" means to imitate or copy. In spite of her point-blank name, Lisa Parrott goes out of her way not to do that, whether on alto or baritone sax. Parrott's alto is lustrous and ripened, summoning at times the halcyon days of the Swing Era, while her baritone is barbed and heavy, evoking an occasional memory of the late Cecil Paynebut always without mimicry. Would that the musical perspective underlying Parrott's latest recording, Round Tripper, were as explicit or engaging. Instead, what is imparted is a series of generally modest songs and charts that for the most part dampen the group's best efforts to invest them with gravity and charm.
Parrott, whose stock in trade is resourceful improvisation, at least with her regular employer, the all-woman big band DIVA, shows all too little of that here, preferring instead to emphasize the group dynamic with drummer Matt Wilson, bassist Chris Lightcap and especially guitarist (and fellow Aussie) Carl Dewhurst. While there's nothing wrong with that, and the group does interact agreeably, it would have been a treat to hear Parrott in a more unrestrained (straight-shooting) habitat. Even when joined by DIVA sidekick Nadje Noordhuis, as she is on "Do You Think That I Do Not Know" and "Waltzing Matilda," Parrott seems to be playing well within her prescribed boundaries.
An exception is the buoyant "Um a Zero," on which Parrott salutes her musical forbears with phrases that are both singular and swinging. Bernie McGann's "D. Day," which follows, is another swinger on which Parrott and Dewhurst playfully spar to good advantage while Wilson and Lightcap design a colorful rhythmic tapestry. Parrott divides her time between alto ("Rosa Takes a Stand," "Dancing Laughing," Um a Zero," "D. Day," "Waltzing Matilda") and baritone ("Do You Think," "I Don't Know What," "Round Trip"). Noordhuis plays flugel on "Do You Think," trumpet on the traditional Australian folk song "Waltzing Matilda."
In sum, high marks for equilibrium and energy. A more than respectable quartet date that one suspects could have been even better had strategy and circumstances dictated.
Rosa Takes A Stand; Dancing Laughing; Do You Think That I Do Not Know; Um A Zero; D. Day; I Don't Know What; Round Trip; Waltzing Matilda.
Lisa Parrott: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone (3, 6, 7); Matt Wilson: drums; Chris Lightcap: double bass; Carl Dewhurst: guitar (1-6, 8); Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet (8), flugelhorn (3).
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