Aaron Parks Little Big (US)
Aaron Parks Little Big, the new Ropeadope album from the acclaimed pianist, keyboardist and composer, is at once the culmination of his brilliant early career and the long-awaited follow-up to his Blue Note Records debut, Invisible Cinema. That 2008 release, with its gorgeously melodic writing and improvising and deft use of indie-rock, electronica and hip-hop elements, established Parks as one of the most gifted and original young voices in jazz. “This is the natural successor to that record,” says the New York-based artist, 34. “It’s taking the ideas of that project and doubling down on them—fully committing to that direction.”
Little Big also marks the recorded debut of the intuitive working group that gives the album its title (and which takes its name from a fantastical novel by John Crowley—a favorite book of Parks and, the pianist notes, Wayne Shorter). Parks handled the production duties, with engineering by Daniel Schlett (whose credits include The War on Drugs and Ghostface Killah). The album was mixed by both Schlett and Grizzly Bear bassist/producer Chris Taylor, the latter of whom Parks met in a Seattle big band at the age of 10. “We put a lot of time and care into the way this record sounds, and the result”—simultaneously crystalline and warm, postmodern and natural—“makes me really happy,” Parks adds.
Shai Maestro Trio (IL, PE)
Shai Maestro (1987) is one of the most promising and talented pianists of his generation. Since his debut with his own trio in 2011, Shai has shaped a strong and unique personal identity and has portrayed an incredible musical fluidity, making Shai and his trio one of the most powerful and harmonious groups in the jazz today.
Shai’s fifth album and first album for the famous label ECM, “The Dream Thief”, features the gifted pianist fronting his superlative trio with young and fellow Israeli Ofri Nehemya on drums and Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder, and also playing alone. Maestro portrays characteristically thoughtful originals, each one with a story to tell. His differentiated touch is special, able to convey a range of fleeting emotions in a single phrase. The album was recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in April 2018 and is produced by Manfred Eicher.