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Aaron Parks

Aaron Parks & band

Aaron Parks
@ the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London
13 November 2009

Click an image to enlarge.

Biography

At age 14 he enrolled in an early entrance college program; by 15 he was attending University of Washington with a triple-major in math, computer science and music.

“Early on I never thought I could have a career in music,” he recalls. “But then I started to have those experiences where you’re playing and you completely lose yourself, and the music plays you. I got so addicted to that feeling. I think everyone who plays improvisational music tries to reach that state. Hopefully, if you do it more and more, you find the trick to make it more consistent.”

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”.

The CD “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.”

With his technically involved yet boundlessly melodic and sensitive playing, and with the sense of colour and imagination he conveys in every musical situation, Parks is setting a new standard for jazz piano expression. In the time since his stint with Terence Blanchard, he has toured the world as a member of Rosenwinkel’s quintet. At the Jazz Gallery, a groundbreaking jazz venue in lower Manhattan, he recently premiered a new collection of pieces titled “Archetypes: Character Studies in Sound,” as part of the Gallery’s prestigious Composer Series. In his recent recordings as a sideman on Christian Scott’s Anthem, Kendrick Scott’s “The Source”, Gretchen Parlato’s self-titled.

 


Recommended
Listening

 

Invisible Cinema

 

Further Recommended
Listening

Click the image below to see more photographs of Aaron Parks with Terence Blanchard...

Terence Blanchard @ the Pizza Express Jazz Club (click to go to this page)

Go back to the London Jazz Festival 2009 home page.

 Go back to the jazz gallery.

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