From the diamond mines of outstanding creativity and substantive talent, there often comes a artistic gem that is flawless in quality and will eventually garner critical admiration. One such artist who has risen from the doldrums of obscurity and has received considerable notice as a member of trumpeter Terance Blanchard’s Sextet is pianist Aaron Parks. With Blanchard, he has appeared on two albums and participated musically in two of Spike Lee’s films. In either case, Aaron has exhibited a specialized ability from day one. In a very short span of time, Park has become one of jazz’s rising new voices. From there, the natural order of occurrences would seemingly be a CD of his own as a follow-up. His debut release for Blue Note Records entitled ‘Invisible Cinema’ is the continuation of an artistic odyssey influenced by improvisational interpretation. For his debut album, Aaron Parks has pulled together some of the finest sidemen on the jazz scene today. Accompanying him on his journey is drummer Eric Harland, bassist Matt Penman and guitarist Mike Moreno. All three of these guys have worked together collectively and individually with Parks on various gigs under an umbrella of congruous creativity.
Invisible Cinema is filled with a cornucopia of jazz styles and panoramic imagery. Aaron takes his blend of contemporary, fusion and straight-ahead jazz styles to cognitive levels of enthused conveyance. As a 24-year old novice leader, Parks’ original compositions can be compared to those of a seasoned veteran. His music has all the sensibilities of improvisation, harmonic viability and can also stand as one of the most interpretive releases of 2008. As a jazz standard Invisible Cinema goes the distance towards avoiding the clichés of pop mediocrity that is often experienced on many smooth jazz recordings. In fact, Parks goes to great lengths to avoid any semblance of that type of activity. From beginning to end this CD pushes the envelope of definitive jazz interpretation, one possessing historical artistic significance.
Although the widely held notion that jazz is not the most popular genre of music heard today, jazz artists, aficionados and connoisseurs alike have always had a rough road to travel, but Aaron Parks is a fine example of hope who goes beyond the consensus of the uninformed. Tracks such as "Peaceful Warrior," "Nemesis" and the title track "Invisible Cinema" all convey varying levels of originality and impressionism. Even more important and to the point is the measure of intuitive chemistry displayed by Moreno, Harland and Penman. Each member in his own way melds exquisitely with Aaron Parks’ virtuoso piano versatility. But by any stretch of enjoyment, Invisible Cinema is an album that is well worth the pursuit of exceptional jazz excellence. This CD is a fine example of that intuitive creative spirit that comes from within.
Note from Publisher: I was first introduced to the composition and performance of Aaron Parks through his work with Terence Blanchard (top trumpeter and composer in my book.) To this day, Aaron's composition of "Harvesting Dance" featured on Blanchard's "Flow" CD is one of the most uniquely composed pieces that I have ever heard; a piece that I could never tire listening to. If I were a film producer, I would write a movie around this track alone. His years with Blanchard sure did rub off. To make my point why I selected this CD as the "Pick of the Week", I am literally on my forth week of listening to nothing else in my office, car, home, MP3 player and right now. It's just that good! I love the whole CD but "Harvesting Dance" and "Nemesis" are true stand outs. My "Pick of the Year."