Back in 2010, I reviewed Jason Parker’s ‘No More, No Less’ declaring it “a recording that is filled with great tunes, wonderful improvisation, and insightful interplay from start to finish.”. His Nick Drake tribute was one of my top 2011 albums, and now the Jason Parker Quartet is back with an album of compositions by local Seattle composers.
Musical Genre: Mainstream Jazz
Where to buy: Jason Parker’s OneWorkingMusician site
Artist: Jason Parker Quartet
I began thinking about this album just days after our last album, Five Leaves Left: A Tribute To Nick Drake, was released. The plan was to record an album of songs that were all written by Seattle jazz composers in an effort to a) do something cool and different, and b) shine a spotlight on some of the wonderful jazz musicians living and working in Seattle. I had no idea if the concept would be met with favorable reactions so I was blown away when everyone I talked to was as excited about the idea as I was.
I’m proud to say that “Homegrown” is 100% Seattle – the compositions, the recording, mixing and mastering, the artwork, manufacturing, the financing, even the food and drink consumed during the process, all came from right here in my hometown.
This Jason Parker Quartet album starts off incredibly strong with “Snickerdoodle Fritz”, a funky hard bop song that reminds me of the best in modern jazz because it is drawn in many ways from the early 60’s ‘Horace Silver’ school, but also reflects the modern sensibilities of musicians who grew up through the rock and pop era and have worked in a variety of settings and genres through the years.
The band consists of Jason Parker on trumpet, Josh Rawlings on piano, Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, D’Vonne Lewis on drums, with special guest Cynthia Mullis on tenor sax. This is the same group (including Mullis as occasional guest) from all of the Jason Parker Quartet recordings, and their group communication has strengthened and grown over the past several years.
As noted this is a Seattle love story, with great songs from Parker, Rawlings, Mullis, and more. Here is the list of songs and composers:
1. Snickerdoodle Fritz 5:04 – Josh Rawlings
2. One Perfect Rose 4:22 – Jason Parker
3. Little Frances 5:25 – Thomas Marriot
4. You Know You Wanna 6:50 – Cynthia Mullis
5. Gala 7:37 – Hadley Caliman
6. Feeding The Right Wolf 5:50 – Jason Parker
7. Reticence 6:03 – Jeremy Jones
8. Rue Cler 9:26 – Marc Seales
9. A.C.S. 8:04 – Josh Rawlings, Troy Kendrick, Jason Parker
10. Snickerdoodle Fritz (Slight Return) 1:17 – Josh Rawlings
There are no ‘skippable moments’ on this record – every song is a solid piece that will keep you listening. From slower pieces like “Rue Clare” to up-tempo romps such as ‘A.C.S.”, things keep moving from start to finish.
‘Quick Hit’ Song: “Rue Clare” – this long and sprawling composition seemed to pop up on my iPod quite frequently, and the syncopation of the opening always grabbed me and held my attention. The melody is long and complex, taking more than a minute and a half to really settle into the main groove with a pedal bass and piano providing an introspective feel against Parker’s evolving trumpet themes. Everyone is on top of their game for this song, and there is something that really connected with me.
Would I recommend?: Absolutely! What I love about Jason Parker’s music is that anyone can listen to it, and everyone will get something from. It is accessible, but that doesn’t mean it is lacking in depth. The compositions keep the band challenged, and in turn they provide intriguing takes on melodic structures in their improvisations.
Suggested audience: This is one of those recordings that you can put on just about anywhere and people will enjoy it regardless of their preferred genre. My older son was listening to ‘Snickerdoodle Fritz’ in the car and saying ‘this is my jam’ without knowing anything more about it.
Source: Publisher provided download: