This is the first in a series of reports from the 2022 Montreal International Jazz Festival. I will be doing a round-up for The Arts Desk. Here on LJN I will post gig reviews… plus “dispatches”, i.e. general observations, including apologies/excuses for the hundreds of gigs I will inevitably miss. The first review is of a solo guitar concert by Jeff Parker… followed by the reasons why, out of several gigs I had hoped to see and hear on he opening night of this great jamboree (GRRRR)… this was the only one I could actually get to..
(Centre Culturel Gesu. 30 June 2022. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
The simplest, boldest, quitest, clearest and most poetic musical gesture which Jeff Parker made last night was also his last. Parker, builds layers of looping and reverb, but what he chose to do to close off his 80-minute solo guitar show was to hold a single chord: mesmerically, tantrically… and then patiently, graciously let it stay around until, eventually, it died away. It was a gesture that demanded the audience’s complete attention. And received it.
Jeff Parker’s album Forfolks (International Anthem), the basis of some of the repertoire for this concert, has received a lot of attention. There is surface appeal. This is easy music to “chill” or “vibe out” to, but it is also carefully and thoughtfully crafted. Parker has explained the background in in a live podcast (LINK HERE – skip the first three minutes). Having lived in Chicago for 22 years, where he was an influential member of AACM, he moved to LA. He has explained that when he moved there he didn’t know anyone. “Nobody was calling me to do stuff.” He found a rehearsal studio which was free in the daytime and he could use it to experiment with his guitar and effects pedals, and”create sonic environments for me to run around in.”
The podcast also alluded to a subject that came across in the concert, and which (incidentally) Liam Noble has written about wonderfully eloquently in the last year: introversion. It is not a surprise that the seemingly ego-less Parker took time to adapt to LA. Parker describes his initial work in the LA studio as intended to be a sonic “palette” for others to use, and that the step to turn himself into the main/only protagonist came well into the process. Parker is a quiet, unassuming creator. He brought in different soundworlds. A hightly effective moment was the introduction of a field recording of traffic sounds. Another was his “My Ideal” in the manner of the Kenny Dorham Quiet Kenny album.
The MIJF/ Gesu programme is always enticing and intriguing. It is in the form of spinning a web based on individual musicians. The presence of Parker is connected to the residency of Makaya McCraven as the first of the artists in residence. In this case it was fascinating to hear Jeff Parker, live, close-up and on his own terms. Let’s hear it for introverts.
Dispatch: Air travel at the moment certainly ain’t simple. Several flights out of LHR Terminal 2 yesterday were cancelled, so to have flown at all, to be reunited with my luggage were both good results. The Air Canada flight to YUL was, however, nine hours late…. I had been dreaming…of making a pilgrimage to Upstairs to hear occasional LJN contributor and Juno-award winner Mike Rud with Joel Frahm, with whom Charlie Rees recently did a super interview . I was also looking forward to the Wynton Marsalis/ JLCO concert. But walking back through the festival area last night was a re-affirmation. It is a privilege to be back here.
Sebastian is in Montreal as a guest of FIJM
LINKS: Preview of FIJM
Categories: Live review