There are certain artists that you know you can always count on. Whenever they are involved in something, at least it is going to be interesting and often it will be great. Guitarist Jeff Parker is one of those artists.
It has been an undivided pleasure following Parker through his many constellations, whether it is Isotope 217, Tricolor, Chicago Underground, Brian Blade Fellowship, Makaya McCraven or Tortoise, just to name a few. However, Parker has also carved a small, but exquisite body of work as a leader of his own groups and The New Breed is yet another winner in his evolving discography.
The album is released by the noteworthy label International Anthem whose people got involved with Parker when he contributed significantly to drummer Makaya McCraven's album In the Moment (2015). As it turned out, Parker had some music in his vaults and eventually he and the label decided it would make sense to release an album.
Parker assembled a group of creative souls, including bassist Paul Bryan, reed-player Joshua J. Johnson and drummer Jamire Williams. Together they make music that is both old and new, part of the past and pointing into the future. It is a kind of organic beat music, not unlike the sounds on McCraven's album. What is remarkable is how seamlessly Parker integrates the electronic and acoustic elements. He doesn't just play on the beat, he stretches it and improvises around it and a track like "Jrifted" is the definition of laidback cool with saxophone lines, catchy guitar riffs and a wondrous beat-epilogue with strings. Elsewhere, the brief "Para Ha Tey" plays with chugging rhythms and Ethiopian scales and the opener, "Executive Life," with its deep bass and hi-hat-rhythm adds a beat that sounds like it is stuck in a tape recorder.
The New Breed is a reference to a clothing store Parker's late father, Ernie, owned and family plays an important role to Parker. His own daughter Ruby contributes with singing on the jazzy beat-lullaby "Cliché" that includes the words: "he told me the end is coming / I responded that is a cliché."
No, the world is thankfully not ending yet and there is still plenty of sounds to discover. Parker's own music stays clear away of clichés or twists them into something new. His approach is contemporary and fresh without losing sight of tradition. If this music is the new breed, there is reason to rejoice.
Executive Life; Para Ha Tay; Here Comes Ezra; Visions; Jrifted; How Fun It Is To
Year Whip; Get Dressed; Cliché.
Jeff Parker: electric guitar, Korg MS20, Wurlitzer electric piano, Mellotron, loops
and samplers, MIDI and drum programming; Josh Johnson: alto saxophone, flute,
clarinet, Wurlitzer electric piano, Mellotron; Paul Bryan: electric bass guitar; Jamire
Williams: drums; Jay Bellerose: drums and percussion (#4); Ruby Parker: vocals
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