Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jeff Parker, Bright Light in Winter

Guitarist Jeff Parker has become the "go-to guy" for modern and avant sessions in Chicago. His new CD Bright Light in Winter (Delmark 2015) helps you understand why. It's a trio of Parker with Chris Lopes on acoustic bass and Chad Taylor on drums. This is his third and it's a good one. The band straddles the line between the acoustic and the electronic in ways that make both ends talk to each other. Both Parker and Lopes make use of a Korg synthesizer for effective atmospheric washes and added texture at selected points. So too they straddle the lines between swinging, creating Afric-American polyrhythmic creative tensions, and flat-out funking out. It all works together. And it all works. Listen to "Occidental," a nice groove in seven that suggests all three at once.

The compositions are effective vehicles for the soloing and Parker gives us a good slather of post-Dunbar-Green bluesy post-bop that can stretch and go into some edginess or stay in the pocket. It's in the tradition and onto the farther borders of it at the same time. Chad Taylor, as always, can whip up a firey drum accompaniment that has the well-paced "smart smoke" of the master he is. Hyland Harris's well conceived liner notes mention Parker's arc soloing dynamics. And as you listen you hear how his solos build effectively, generally hit a peak and wind down.

All of this takes place in a situation where Lopes's bass gives the music that strong fundamental anchorage it demands, whether it be in a harmonic shift or laying down a pattern with style and energy.

There are some excellent rhythmic motifs, some really ear catching written lines and most of all there is the very hot interplay between Parker and Taylor, guitar and drums.

It's a winner all the way. A guitar trio with something to express, a new handle on the in & out tradition. Most definitely recommended.

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