There's this thing about musicians from Chicago; they like to
play. You can find a lot of crosspollination going on throughout
the windy city. Jeff Parker, better known as the guitarist in
Tortoise, has been playing musical chairs for a while with the
AACM, Chicago Underground, Isotope 217 (RIP) and Tricolor, as
well as guest spotting on new records by Ken Vandermark and Diverse.
This new full-length on Thrill Jockey, The Relatives follows
2003's Like Coping.
Parker's a seasoned guitarist able to jump from Grant Green,
Wes Montgomery and Sonny Sharrock to John McLaughlin, George Benson
or Kenny Burrell with the flick of his wrist. A great improviser
and user of harmonics, his feel is steady and melodic. This set
sees him in the Green/Benson/McLaughlin style of jazz guitar,
with slight tints of blues and bossa. This would be a fresh addition
to the overwrought Blue Note excursions of late. Here we have
solid, accomplished players that are able to offer a shimmering
splash of organic color and melody. Very rich in sound and texture,
yet all within a song structure, rarely does the band go out
(which they apparently can do with ease).
Engineered and mixed at John McEntire's Soma Studios, Parker
is joined by drummer Chad Taylor, Chris Lopes on bass and guitars,
and Sam Barsheshet on Rhodes and Wurlitzer. The sound is soft,
contained, playful, soulful and engaging -- never too far out
nor too safe. It rides the line between in a very purposeful,
enjoyable and memorable way. At times reminiscent of Miles Davis'
modal and post-bop periods, yet with a style and era of its own.
(And it's not post-rock, it's a jazz record). Recommended. [DG]