There are certainly hipper instruments than the guitar at the moment – and hipper genres than jazz. Nevertheless many people are talking about this guitarist Jeff Parker. Which is due to his current album »Suite for Max Brown«. And the recent anniversary of »TNT«, that milestone of Tortoise’s more subtle post-rock. Parker not only plays guitar with the American band, but created the whole atmosphere with his characteristic playing on that very album. And Tortoise is not his only project that has him firmly rooted in Chicago. The 52-year-old has already worked with the Chicago Underground Orchestra, Isotope 217 and the Exploding Star Orchestra. And for his own new album, Parker has already received plenty of positive feedback from music blogs to newspapers. His art: Jeff Parker never plays pushy. His melodies, his approaches remain as they are. Jazz mixes with Hip-Hop, R’n’B and other influences on the album. When Jeff Parker is composing, it’s very well thought out. However, Parker never slips into his pieces in a heady way. If you get involved with »Suite for Max Brown«, the instrumentation puts you into wondrous dreams. Parker does not pursue futurism or the cultivation of conventions there. Instead, he pursues his own vision, his own sound image. He does more than just jazz for indie listeners. His tunes remain accessible, do not refuse to entertain. And yet they are still jazz, imbued with a love of detail. Modest and relaxed. Parker himself wants his listeners to feel the honesty of his music. »It’s probably the only thing I can hope for,« he said in another interview. »What people take away from the album, they have to find out for themselves.«
Well, Jeff Parker has selected 10 records for us, which have shaped, improved and formed him. And commented on his selection.
1 – James Mason – Rhythm Of Life (Chiaboscuro records) (1977) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: Multi-instrumentalist and producer James Mason came out of the Roy Ayers school of cosmopolitan Jazz-Funk – music for the consciousness, the soul and the party. The track »Sweet Power, Your Embrace« is an underground dance floor classic, I love the angularity in the harmonic choices that were made during the writing. I’ve had this in heavy rotation for 15+ years.
2 – Miles Davis – On The Corner (Sony Music) (1972) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: All of Miles’ music from the early 70s has had a heavy influence on me and my approach to music-making. »On The Corner« is rooted in groove and repetition but rich with nuance. It is profound in its directness and simplicity.
3 – Miles Davis – Porgy And Bess (Orchestra Under The Direction Of Gil Evans) (Columbia) (1959) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: Miles brought out the genius in Gil Evans. This album stands as my favorite amongst one of the greatest collaborations in all of music. Rich in color. Inspired, brilliant orchestration.
4 – Georgia Anne Muldrow – Olesi: Fragments Of An Earth (Stones Throw) (2006) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: I haven’t stopped listening to this album since it first was released in ‘06. Harmonically-rich, Post-Dilla soul music. Georgia Anne Muldrow has always stood levels above the rest of us.
5 – Steely Dan – Aja (ABC) (1977) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: I’ve been a Steely Dan fan since I was 13 years old – when I first heard »Aja«. I had it on cassette. I always find myself coming back to this album. I think it is perfect.
6 – A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders (Jive) (1993) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: Whether they we’re aware of it or not, A Tribe Called Quest were part of a movement that pointed jazz music in a new direction. Their music helped me – and many of my generation – realize that jazz music could branch out beyond so many canonical and avant-garde cliches and embrace it’s history in a fresh, post-modern way.
7 – Quasimoto – The Unseen (Stones Throw) (2000) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: Quasimoto is producer Madlib’s mischievous alter-ego, created by tape-manipulation. »The Unseen« is an epic work by a mad musical scientist. The tracks are scenes, and this album is a film.
8 – J Dilla – Welcome 2 Detroit (BBE) (2001) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: J Dilla was a visionary and a producer of immense depth. His short time in our lives took contemporary music to a new place. I’ve learned many things from studying this album, and so many more to come.
9 – Charlie Parker – The Savoy Sessions (Savoy Records) (1978) | Vinyl 10×10inch
Jeff Parker: Charlie Parker taught me that music is a science, an intellectual pursuit, that things have an order to them. »Bird«’s improvisations and compositions are structurally complete. There is unparalleled science and logic behind them.
10 – Bobby Hutcherson (ft. Harold Land) – Now! (Blue Note) (1970) | Vinyl LP
Jeff Parker: – Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land’s music explores a modern, architectural sound- but with a lot of moving parts that fit together. It’s almost as if you can see structures forming as you listen. This album is my favorite of their collaborations, also featuring the vocalist and lyricist Eugene McDaniels along with a vocal ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.