I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT THE JAZZ SCENE!!!!
That being said, I do know chill music when I hear it. And this is some chill jazz, maaan.
Like a frozen banana popsicle on a hot summer’s day, this album is sure to put a smile on your face!
Jazz is as American as baseball and apple pie (albeit a bit more cultured) so there’s nothing to be afraid of, you jazz haters out there. It’s the middle of the baseball season, the All-Star game is next week, and I’m feeling genuinely mellow.
So dive into this pool of vibey goodness!
Parker is best known for his work as a multi-instrumentalist for Tortoise as well as being a pivotal member of the Chicago experimental jazz scene.
On this record, he plays a plethora of instruments manning the guitar, synthesizer, piano, and mellotron in addition to the various loops, samples, and drum programming he sprinkles across the work.
His instrumental talents have made him a busy man over the last couple decades and International Recording Company recognized this in their description of the release:
Jeff Parker has been incomparably prolific over the last 20+ years while merely producing 5 albums as a “lead artist” (just 2 since 2005). “Lead artist” is in quotes here, because though his name is seldom seen in marquees, his distinctive guitar sound has been essential to every project he’s been part of.
On top of this being a rare solo work of his, Parker’s latest album is the first to have been completed after leaving Chicago to resettle in Los Angeles.
Once officially moved in, he took a glance into his hard drive and discovered past recordings and various projects (some of which could have been previously found on his MySpace page during the 2000s) that had been cast aside from over the years.
International Records continues, “Parker had long been in silent study of vinyl sampling and beat conduction, but perhaps it’s no coincidence that new residence in a city aflame with experimental R&B, jazz and electronic fusers spurred him to dig back in to the practice and produce with more purpose.”
After playing around with these past recordings, Parker enlisted a handful of talented jazz musicians to record during a span of several sessions. The studio time was meant to capture pre-composed ideas as well as provide an opportunity for free improvisation in conjunction with the refined samples.
The result is an intriguingly satisfying avant-garde psychedelic jazz record which combines improvised jazz sounds with samples and beats you’d expect to hear on a hip-hop album. It’s big chillin’.
“Executive Life” gets things going with a funky bass line that makes you want to walk down city blocks like it was the 1970 again. “Here Comes Ezra” sounds like it could be an instrumental Sales song before transitioning into structured improvisational chaos at its climax. “Get Dressed” is an urban outdoorsy summer jam that sets the stage for the amiable groove of the closing track, and my favorite song on the record, “Cliche.”
The work is truly a family affair and illustrates samples of Parker’s work from over the years while being visually stitched together with photos from his family photo album. The record is named after a clothing store his late father, Ernie Parker, used to run 40 years ago and features vintage photographs of him in honor of his memory. The album also portrays the talents of a younger generation of Parkers by including the sweet vocals of his daughter Ruby who lends her talents on “Cliche.”
All in all, even if you’re not a fan of jazz this record can be found as highly enjoyable. It makes for great background music to your summer ensemble and I can attest to this as I put it on as I made my guests breakfast this morning.
They both liked it and you will too.