Aaron Parks: Little Big review – Jazz is in safe hands

Little Big
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Artist: Aaron Parks
Genre: Jazz
Label: Ropeadope

Since his emergence as a leader 10 years ago with the excellent Invisible Cinema, Seattle-born pianist Aaron Parks has been a moving target, recording an ineffable solo debut for ECM and co-leading the open-minded James Farm band with saxophonist Joshua Redman, as well as maintaining an active sideman presence with innovators such as Kurt Rosenwinkel and Gretchen Parlato.

But Little Big, the band that gives its name to his latest studio visit as leader, sounds like the pianist may be ready to settle down.

Turning over fresh ground in the bright harmonic landscape opened up by Keith Jarrett and particularly Pat Metheny's groups with pianist Lyle Mays, Little Big has a sound all its own, and Parks – evincing his usual disinclination to show off – makes plenty of space for the individual voices of guitarist Greg Touhey, bassist David Ginyard and drummer Tommy Crane.

It's a big, generous sound of singing melodies and rugged textures, but just when you think you've got Little Big's measure, Parks pulls another surprise, which is just what you would expect of a pianist who is rapidly becoming one of the most influential voices of the new jazz generation.

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a musician, writer and director