on September 17, 2008
Recently, I was lamenting about the passage of many of our jazz greats due to age, sickness, etc. I told my wife that the current generation of musicians don't seem to be interested in nuturing our beloved music with taste and technical prowess. I was wrong. There is a new group of young jazz lions out there and Aaron Parks is at the front of the the pack! In fact, on a recent trip to New York City, we were lucky enough to catch Aaron and a stunningly brillient guitarist named Mike Moreno at New York's "Jazz Standard" club. The music these young men put down was all at once beautiful and intricate. I could not believe my ears. So, I purchased the Aaron Parks CD and was not let down. I've now listened to it multiple times and it keeps getting better. It is inventive and thick with excellent playing. Buy it.
on September 6, 2008
One test of an album is, how many times do I want to listen to it? I listened to this one five times before I took a break. That's a lot for me. Usually I'm relieved to get through a new album so I can go back to something I really like. I switched to The Brian Blade Fellowship's Season of Changes for comparison, but I couldn't get through it before I had to go back to Invisible Cinema for another listen. There are at least four things that make this album so satisfying to me. First, there is the physical quality of the playing. Aaron Parks and Mike Moreno both have a beautiful touch, delicate, precise, and supremely confident. Second, there's a lot of variety on this album. In different places it reminds of Brad Mehldau, The Bad Plus, Radiohead, The Pat Metheny Group, world music, and more, but I like Invisible Cinema more than anything I've recently heard from these other artists. Third, Parks makes excellent use of harmonies and other ideas from progressive pop. He even gives us a great bluesy number in "Roadside Distraction" and a great folky number in "Praise." Fourth, despite the variety, the album is unified by a very strong artistic vision. Ben Ratliff in his recent "Critics' Choice" blurb questioned the clarity and consistency of Parks's leadership here, but in my opinion this is just further evidence of Ratliff's unreliability as a critic.
on November 8, 2008
Aaron Parks take a shot at defining modern piano with "Invisible Cinema". If you've heard the Terence Blanchard and Christian Scott CD's that Parks played on, this CD will feel familiar. Parks plays a relatively spare piano, and the songs sound like they're in a minor key. The relative effect is more of a quiet Vijay Iyer than Brad Mehldau. Guitarist Mike Moreno is on hand to support the song and piano playing. His few solos are very good, though. Some of the songs are rock-inspired, which means Radiohead-esque. These are more likely to have simple, repeated eighth-note lines.
This is a jazz CD which will appeal to rock fans that crossover to jazz, and any jazz fan who likes to stay current.
on August 26, 2014
Before I get to this album I want to tell people to check out Aaron's free download "Alive in Japan." It's a full album he recorded with his phone (the sound is still quite good) in Japan in December 2012 with Thomas Morgan on bass and RJ Miller on drums. You'll easily find it online. Showing what a great guy he is, Aaron says: "If for some reason you feel compelled to contribute something, consider donating to a charity in Japan (or elsewhere in the world), or buying someone else's record with the money you didn't spend on this one." Alive in Japan is more of a straight ahead jazz trio record, not like Invisible Cinema. I love the variety of textures and approaches here. This is an album that your friends who are more into independent rock than jazz will like, but your friends who like jazz will love it too. The compositions are memorable, with beautiful changes in tempo and meter. Mike Moreno is brilliant on guitar, Matt Penman on bass and Eric Harland on drums. One example of the brilliant transitions--the sly bass and driving drums of "Riddle Me This" with its gem of a melody played in unison by Parks and Moreno fades out and Parks plays the solo piece "Into the Labyrinth" where he picks up and develops elements of "Riddle Me This." I lent this to a friend and it took three months to get it back. Easily 5 stars.
on May 22, 2011
This is an album full of cinematic, modern jazz that, quite simply, sounds like no one else but Aaron Parks. The elements of indie rock/art rock (especially in "Nemesis") give the album a distinct flavor and transcends even the majority of new jazz. The sidemen could not be more perfect: Matt Penman and Eric Harland's constantly shifting polyrhythmic grooves are the perfect complement to Parks' lyrical lines. Guitarist Mike Moreno, although less noticeable, has a textural sound that falls somewhere between Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel. The playing livens Parks' haunting, dramatic, and playful compositions; the songs come to life like the characters in an aural cinema. If you dig this album, then check out Aaron Parks, Eric Harland, and Matt Penman with Joshua Redman in the brand new album James Farm (it's fantastic).
on August 31, 2010
The best jazz artists typically display a strong balance of developed chops and "soul." All of the personnel on "Invisible Cinema" do just that. The compositions are also bold and fresh, while being relatively easy on the ear and even quite catchy. The lack of complicated arrangements and tense harmonies make this a great album for jazz newbies. Hardcore jazzers will appreciate the virtuosity of the group and the emotional depth of Park's compositions. Highly recommended.
on March 27, 2011
I've kept an ear to the newer directions of jazz to the best of my ability. While a lot of it is enjoyable, Invisible Cinema is a smoldering affair between four supremely talented musicians. This quartet plays with a kind of passion I haven't heard since the 60s and 70s, the kind of intensity you would expect from group led by McCoy Tyner or Charlie Parker.
Parks has been compared to his peers many times, but for this selections of songs, it reminds me of the kind of mixed composition of Chick Corea's better acoustic quartet works, namely Three Quartets. All the seasons seem to be covered here, and there are shortage of soaring melodies and staccato vamps to haunt you long after putting away the CD.
Extra marks to guitarist Mike Moreno, who has such a wonderful ear for melody and building on the standing composition. Double extra marks to drummer Eric Harland who lights fires where you least expect them -- a sleek and powerful engine driving an ambitious set of compositions. I think Parks and his mates far exceeded what they set out to achieve, because this entire CD is imminently listenable, and possibly a classic that will stand the test of time.
on September 28, 2010
I am a jazz pianist myself. I have been looking for new inspiration for years now. Aaron Parks makes beautiful and inspiring music. Everything about this recording (and Dear Someone)is exceptional. The playing, the writing, the production. He is never indulgent. He is always succinct and well stated. One of the very finest musicians (of any genre)I have ever heard. "Peaceful Warrior" is a wonderful composition, and "Arabesque"(Dear Someone album) is perfection that actually touches my pianist soul, in that it savors the beauty and purity of the piano.
on December 25, 2008
To me, listening to music is a particular activity that one chooses to do. In other words, I don't typically turn on the radio or put on a CD just to have noise to accompany some task that I'm doing. Much of what passes for contemporary jazz seems to be designed to be such background music. The songs are long and dull.
Aaron Parks' Invisible Cinema is neither of these. It's fast-paced, and the instrumental work by all of the participants is very interesting. I enjoy sitting down to listen to it. Could there be higher praise for a CD?
on April 13, 2013
Nemesis - just listen to that track if you're checking out the album. Mike Moreno just kills it - so does Aaron and the whole band - but it's Moreno's lines that blow up the track for me. Love this record.