This week we will continue our series of jazz events with a truly outstanding artist. On April 7 we are opening doors for Jeff Parker and The New Breed. So many interesting facts to talk about, where do we even begin?
The American jazz and rock guitarist, born in Hampton, Virginia, in 1967 was attracted to music from an early age on and decided to study at the Berklee College of Music. Soon after he moved to the jazz capital Chicago and started working on his career as a musician. Parker became a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a non-profit organization, which supports and encourages jazz performers, composers and educators. According to its charter the ACCM is devoted “to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music”. Also members of the organization are, for instance, George Lewis, Chico Freeman, Anthony Braxton and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. But Parker was not only interested in playing jazz, his skills as a rock musician were widely acknowledged when he joined the famous post-rock band Tortoise. The almost entirely instrumental music of Tortoise is quite experimental and, rather than the standard rock and roll sound, a mixture that incorporates everything from the so called krautrock, dub, minimalist music, electronic to various jazz styles. Their last album “The Catastophist” was released, by the Chicago based indie label Thrill Jockey, in early 2016.
In 1997 Parker and other members of Tortoise and the Chicago Underground Orchestra founded the jazz and funk band Isotop 217. The New York Times wrote about the band “adept to varying degrees at rock and funk and jazz and electronics, turn those introspective moments into jams that are messier and warmer than Tortoise’s.”. Obviously Parker had a very busy schedule already but so much creative output that he decided to go solo in 2003 with releasing his debut album “Like-Coping”, which he recorded with his long-time collaborators Chris Lopes (Bass) and Chad Taylor (Drums). The album was a change of pace for Parker in that it was more rooted in the classic jazz tradition. Even though the album is mentioned everywhere as his solo project only five of the twelve original compositions on the release are attributed to Parker alone. The rest of the album is made up of three Lopes compositions, two Taylor compositions, and two free improvisations, which are credited to the entire group. Parker stated: “I have always felt that music-making is a communal gesture. When an aggregation of musicians get together to create, particularly in a setting that deals with improvisation, the most compelling results, for me, are those that embrace the whole, rather than the sum of the parts.”
His second album “The Relatives” was released two years later, in 2005, via Thrill Jockey. Besides Lopes and Tayler, whom played on the first album already, Sam Barsheshet (Keys) was joining the group this time. And again Parker was giving everyone equally time to shine on the album, humbly delivering his sparklingly clean, unfussy guitar contributions. After “The Relatives” he concentrated on other projects for a while before releasing his third solo album “Bright Light In Winter” in early 2012. This LP was released by the cult label Delmark Records, arguably the oldest American jazz and blues indie label, founded by Bob Koester in 1953. And again it was Chris Lopes and chad Taylor who joined him. “Bright Light In Winter” is a well balanced mix of composition and improvisation by the trio and best appreciated when heard from beginning to end in a single sitting. The nine tracks, conceptually and harmonically, bleed into each other and creating a cohesive entity.
Jeff Parker’s latest album “The New Breed” was released last year, June 2016, by the International Anthem Recording Company and is definitely his absolute master piece so far. For this album Paker assembled a group of creative souls, including bassist Paul Bryan, reed-player Joshua J. Johnson and drummer Jamire Williams. The sound of “The New Breed” is bringing electronic and acoustic elements together, a combination of old and new, catchy guitar riffs, laidback cool saxophone lines and chugging rhythms. Family is playing an important role in Parker’s life as this album is a reference to a clothing store owned by Parker’s late father, Ernie, and on the jazzy beat-lullaby “Cliché” he features his daughter Ruby. The music on the album is either far from clichés or twists them into something new. Parker’s approach is contemporary and fresh without losing sight of tradition. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times he said: “You know, I started playing because I love jazz. It was the first music, the first sound that made me want to become a musician, I would say my music comes from that, from jazz, but it’s definitely not bound by it.”
We are very excited to see and hear where Jeff Parker and The New Breed will take us on this concert!