Pianist, child prodigy, computer whiz, composer, arranger and virtuoso Aaron Parks makes his Blue Note Records debut with “Invisible Cinema.” After my first encounter, I took a deep breath, shy in wonderment of how I would attempt to unfold into words what this young pianist Aaron Parks has embarked upon. His indescribable harmonic tones, melodies and abstract arrangements lay in the path of a seemingly dark world of Cinematic explorations, are is it an “invisible exploration” from the prolific vision and genius of Aaron Parks.
Let’s meet his supporting cast that shapes this remarkable palette of music features guitarist – Mike Moreno, bassist – Matt Penman and drummer – Eric Harland. With this quartet, you may or not have heard of them. Nonetheless, they are impeccable group of artists drawn from within this body of a-list players that makes his music work effectively.
For those of you who have had the pleasure of hearing Grammy winning Terence Blanchard’s “A Tale of God’s Will,” you are probably still breathless from listening to this magnificent recording. What that said, this substantial body of work presented here is deeply rooted within the mindset of Aaron Parks which will also enthrall you. The twenty-four year old Seattle native, currently residing in Brooklyn, NYC is well equipped to venture into this exceptional quest thrusts listeners beyond the compass of our typical sound stage that is usually confined on our hard drives and iPod (MP3) playlist.
My, my, my, what amazes me about Parks, is how he encompasses, blends, twist and chisels away at the compositional soundscape of his influences in and outside of jazz with groups like: “Radiohead and Björk, Talk Talk, Blonde Redhead, Me’shell Ndegeocello and straight-up indie-pop like Death Cab for Cutie.” He masterfully works his way through one riveting escapade of jazz meets alternative rock, pop and sliced with a touch of odd-metered funk on this compelling voyage. We must remember Parks is young, audacious, rebellious and expressively mature as a player and composer. Therefore, the beauty of it all he speaks through the lens of his influences without wavering from his collective medium while breaking through the frame most visionaries’ encounter without losing his purpose.
In the liner notes Parks comments about the theme of “Invisible Cinema,” he said: “I was thinking about actual cinema, and this album has a story line that I wouldn’t spell out to anybody, because I want to leave it open to interpretation. But for me there’s a narration in the sequence and song titles and everything.” Without hesitation, I say, he does so eloquently with sheer brilliance. As you can tell, I really dig this project by Aaron Parks. Musically, “Invisible” is described as being “Nu Jazz, Alternative, and Visual” simply put “Fusion.”
Henceforth, ten compositions later this hungry student humbly sustained himself as a noble artist to gain wisdom and insight under the wings of musical mastermind Terence Blanchard for a five year stint and three recordings later “Invisible Cinema” is born. As we see, Aaron Parks was mentored by one of the best and the fruit of his tenure sets a new standard for learning, exploring and possibly a point of reference for any aspiring young jazz musicians to foster they’re gift as future journeymen in this music we love call jazz.
J Desmond | The Urban Flux
Bonus: listen a sample the opening track “Travelers” plus Jason Crane interviews Aaron Parks at The Jazz Sessions.com