This weekend, October 7th and 8th, pianist Aaron Parks celebrates his birthday at The Jazz Gallery with Greg Tuohey on guitar, Jordan Brooks on bass, and Tommy Crane on drums. The Jazz Gallery is quite an appropriate venue for the celebration—Parks can be found on the Gallery’s stage so frequently that he’s practically a part of the venue’s architecture. Here on the Jazz Speaks blog, we’ve profiled, interviewed, and celebrated Parks in a number of different forms over the years, including his involvement in our mentorship series,
his approach to learning and collaboration,
his albums Arborescence (ECM) and Invisible Cinema (Blue Note),
and several other of his projects.
The latest release featuring Aaron Parks arrived earlier this year in the form of Groovements (Stunt Records 2016), a trio record with Danish bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk and drummer Karsten Bagge. The record delivers a warm and articulate trio sound with a familiar feel, tackling an unconventional setlist with charts by Carl Nielsen, Bruce Springsteen, and Arthur Schwartz. Groovements was recorded nearly two years ago while Parks was an artist in residence in Denmark. Since the album’s release, Parks has been busy as a sideman while continuing to tour with his collective “Little Big,” whose personnel fluctuates, but has recently included the likes of Greg Tuohey on guitar, Immanuel Wilkins on saxophone, Spencer Murphy on bass, and Kush Abadey on drums. Shows with Parks as a leader, however, have been infrequent throughout this past spring and summer.
The most recent release by Parks as a sideman is on Dhafer Youssef’s Diwan of Beauty and Odd (OKeh, 2016). Premiered only two weeks ago, Youssef’s soulful album enlists quite a who’s-who of New York musicians, rounded out by Parks on piano. Paired with the plunky low twang of the Oud and Youssef’s yearning and plaintive voice, Parks’ piano playing is spacious, minimalistic, balanced and proportioned. This is perhaps most evident on “Fly Shadow Fly,” which showcases Parks’ calm touch in support of Youssef. Other tracks, like “17th Flyways” and “Al-Akhtal Rhapsody Part II” feature Parks soloing and vamping with a fresh yet idiomatic feel.
Of course, one of the most viewed videos with Aaron Parks of the past year is his collaboration with Ben Wendel on Wendel’s The Seasons project. Recorded at The Jazz Gallery, the video and recording for “November” set a nostalgic scene of reflection and motion, conjuring the changing weather and introspective qualities which autumn always seems bring.
Parks is one of the versatile, contemplative, and busy pianists out there today. Join us at The Jazz Gallery as we celebrate his birthday and welcome autumn to New York.
Aaron Parks plays The Jazz Gallery on Friday, October 7th, and Saturday, October 8th, 2016. Mr. Parks, piano, will be joined by Greg Tuohey on guitar, Jordan Brooks on bass, and Tommy Crane on drums. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. each night. $25 general admission ($12 for members), $30 reserved cabaret seating ($15 for members) for each set. Purchase tickets here.