So many musical styles have been pulled into the genre we've come to call "jazz." Even if Latin rhythms, funky beats, or bizarre instrumentation are involved, you can still hear when the musical undercurrent is jazz and, in fact, what would jazz be without it? In its 100-year history, jazz has come full circle.
Parker's new record fuses classic hard-bop with Calypso, tango, blues, and funk, creating an eclectic, engaging sound. Parker is most likely inspired by the 1950s and '60s works of Horace Silver. Some of the songs sound so straight ahead, they could have been composed in the 1950s. Others incorporate a modern twist with jazz violin.
Adding a local component, though Parker is a resident of New York, is the fact that it was mixed in the Portland suburb of West Linn.
The shining star here is "Step One," with a subtle tango rhythm and a strong interplay between Portland resident John Nasto's saxophone and Rob Thomas' violin. The song is highly energetic and adds a dramatic flare to the record. By far the funkiest song here is "Stage," and unlike other songs on the record, there is no hint of Latin influence. Tony Marino's electric bass line and Parker's minor piano chords enhance the melody of this sizzling, modern funk tune.
Another hot number is "The Ride" with its Latin-tinged percussion, and staccato rather than melodic violin. The playing is tight, and often the song ventures into super straight ahead hard-bop with a Calypso twist in the vein of Horace Silver. Other tunes, such as "Emmy's Shuffle" and "Up Front," explore the bluesier side of jazz, while the title track and "Left at Bingen" are packed with Calypso beats.
Parker's new recording is a ride, sometimes slowing down out of an especially energetic tune to give the listener a rest before he picks it back up again. It's solid playing, and the bonus of the addition of Thomas, a former Portland resident himself, on violin.