Aaron Parks Quartet
(Ronnie Scott’s. 17 November 2023. EFG LJF 2023. Review by Ian Latham)
Aaron Parks is considered as one of the greatest Millennial jazz pianists (link below), and has recently turned 40. While studying with Kenny Barron at the Manhattan School of Music, he was spotted Terence Blanchard, with whom he toured and recorded, all before turning 20. He has now enjoyed a couple of decades at the top of his profession.
Bringing his quartet (with Ben Solomon – tenor sax, Kanoa Mendenhall – bass, and RJ Miller – drums) to Ronnie Scott’s for the London Jazz Festival 2023, the band opened with one of his compositions “Park Lope”, which had a bluesy bebop New York swing sound that brought to mind early Coltrane. However, most of his other compositions in the set leaned away from bebop and swing towards influences such as Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett and the ECM Records universe. So this band offers an interesting glimpse of a particular direction in jazz that retains the traditional line-up but points away from the mainstream.
Most jazz musicians borrow vocabulary and other stylistic traits heavily from their heroes. This was far less obvious in Parks’s playing, which displayed a more individual approach.
The fact that the band held the audience’s attention well and has a strong following on Spotify are testament to the success of Aaron Parks’s musical direction.
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