One of the great albums of 2008.
Michael Quinn 2008-11-07
Debuts rarely announce a talent already mature and fully formed, but Invisible Cinema from the Seattle-born, Brooklyn, New York-based pianist Aaron Parks, emphatically does so with an album of considerable scope brimming over with sophistication.
That Parks's solo debut is on jazz label par excellence Blue Note makes a pretty formidable statement about the 25-year-old's immaculate ability to effortlessly position himself, at one deftly executed move, at the forefront of a new jazz generation.
Invisible Cinema features Parks as both impressively articulate soloist and no less eloquent composer, and finds him in the company of guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. Individually, all four pack a hefty punch; together they prove a knockout combination.
Parks insists there is a particular narrative in the 10-track ''sequence, song titles and everything'' but shrewdly stops there. If you are intent on discovering what the secret story in this Invisible Cinema is, the only place you'll find it is in the music. And what music it is!
Displaying a sovereign command of structure, Parks also leaves plenty of room for free interaction and the resulting amalgam is as thoughtfully-constructed and compelling a piece of music-making as any I've encountered this year. Particularly admirable is the elegantly knowing way in which the beguiling surface simplicity of the music disguises the multi-faceted complexity beneath. So you’ll find allusions to Blues music on Roadside Distraction, to Orbital's In Sides (I kid you not!) on Nemesis, to rock music, John Zorn's Masada and, if you listen hard enough, Bulgarian music on Harvesting Dance.
Invisible Cinema confirms the promise and potential glimpsed in Parks’s dozen and more outings as a sideman to the likes of Terence Blanchard, Ferenc Nemeth and Ambrose Akinmusire. It also reveals him to be a master of melody, and a composer and arranger of protean skill and dexterity.
At the keyboard (and doubling up on mellotron and glockenspiel) Parks is no less impressive and draws finely attuned, richly characterised and reciprocal playing from his young fellow cohorts to turn in one of the great albums of 2008.