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AARON PARKS/BEN STREET/BILLY HART

Find The Way

ECM 478 1841 [50:24]

 

 

  1. Adrift

  2. Song For Sashou

  3. Unravel

  4. Hold Music

  5. The Storyteller

  6. Alice

  7. First Glance

  8. Melquiades

  9. Find The Way

    Aaron Parks - Piano

    Ben Street - Double Bass

    Billy Hart - Drums

    This is pianist and composer Aaron Parks' second album for ECM and, in keeping with his other, earlier, recordings for example on Blue Note with Terence Blanchard or with Joshua Redman, he shows himself to be a rare talent. In contrast with another recent album, where he was accompanied by two European jazz musicians, this one features an all-American trio. Alongside the New York-based Parks, still in his early thirties, are bassist Ben Street and the prolific veteran, Billy Hart, on drums. Street arrived in the New York area in 1991, having studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with Miroslav Vitous and Dave Holland. He has been active on the recording scene since the late 1990s. Hart, now aged 77, has played on hundreds of albums, of course. By comparison, Parks is a newcomer but has no difficulty holding his own.

    All the music on the disc is composed by Parks, with the sole exception of the title track, written by Ian Bernard. The pieces are relatively brief in duration, the longest lasting just over seven minutes. Three impress at first hearing. Adrift shows how technically proficient Parks is (I was reminded of the young Brad Mehldau). This flowing number also allows us to appreciate the accomplished performance of Ben Street on bass and the continued mastery of Billy Hart on drums. Song For Sashou is lyrical and relaxed, altogether a joy to hear. First Glance is both romantic and mellow and is delivered with a limpid simplicity and charm by the trio. Not far behind for sheer quality is Melquiades. There's very much a Bill Evans flavour to this one, in composition and inflection, so well worth anyone's time.

    Unravel is marked by a measured, thoughtful approach on piano, underpinned by bass and drum. The Storyteller is a lilting piece which holds the attention. Alice, after a quiet start, gathers momentum. There are shifts of mood which intrigue. Find The Way is delivered with tenderness. It struck me, as I listened, how often bassist Street strikes just the right note. Although Hold Music has some interesting interchanges between these sterling musicians, it probably made the least impact on this listener, compared to the riches available elsewhere on the album.

    Parks continues to confirm his undoubted promise with this latest release. I love good jazz piano and Parks certainly hits the spot. He combines a natural liveliness with a sure touch and a composer's instinct for what makes for a strong and engaging melody. I'm sure I'll come back to these soulful and accessible tracks soon. Well worth a spin (and more).

    James Poore

 


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