Aaron Parks, John Raymond & Real Feels
196 Allen St.
New York, NY, 10002
Doors 6:30 PM / Show 7:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
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.
After experimenting with various lineups and sessions, Parks landed on three musicians ideally suited for this
atmospheric, genre-bending new work. “This feels like a real band, one that will be around for a while,” he says. Greg
Tuohey is the longest-running member, a guitarist who places taste and tone ahead of chops-focused bravado—or, as
Parks puts it, “It’s like he’s chasing Miles Davis’ phrasing with Jimi Hendrix’s attitude.” On electric bass is David “DJ”
Ginyard Jr., a left-handed player with a distinctively lyrical approach and an aptitude for seeing the bigger musical
picture. “He really understands what the bass does, and he thinks super compositionally,” Parks says, noting how some of
Ginyard’s basslines have become integral to the songs. Anchoring the unit is Tommy Crane, a forward-looking,
stylistically resourceful drummer who brings both explosive creativity and a producer’s knack for precision. “He has a very
unique ability to internalize and commit to the particular heartbeat of each song,” Parks explains, “but always with this vital and elastic human element, which is rare to hear in combination with the kinds of grooves we’re exploring.”
Together they interpret a panoramic set of Parks’ original compositions—from the 21st-century fusion of “Kid,” to the
odd-metered studio jam “Professor Strangeweather,” to the trip-hop ambiance and folkish melody of “Bells.” The
psychedelic “Aquarium”—“probably the sexiest tune on the album,” Parks says, chuckling—conjures up the trippy, sultry
neo-soul vibe of Meshell Ndegeocello, before Tuohey offers a solo that channels Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. “Digital
Society” somehow manages to evoke Afrobeat, bluegrass and Aphex Twin. “Lilac” is, as Parks describes it, “a solo-piano
pop tune.” The leader’s “secret favorite” cut, “Doors Open,” seeks inspiration in late Talk Talk and the “earnestness” of
Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band. That closing track is “definitely not afraid to go straight for your heart,” Parks says with a laugh.
A prodigal talent raised outside of Seattle, Parks moved with his family to study at the Manhattan School of Music when
he was 16. Two years later, on the recommendation of a teacher, NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, he was invited to join
trumpet great Terence Blanchard’s band. That tenure began the relationship with Blue Note that would yield Invisible
Cinema, released when Parks was just 24. In The Guardian, John Fordham called the album “a real independent vision,”
adding that “Parks is a fast-rising star.” In the September 2008 issue of JazzTimes, Parks was named a “New Jazz
Visionary” alongside current giants like Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. Over the
ensuing decade, Parks certainly made good on that early promise. He was an essential presence in Kurt Rosenwinkel’s
band, including on the guitarist’s well-received double album from 2012, Star of Jupiter. As a member of the supergroup
James Farm, also featuring saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland, Parks put
out two celebrated albums on Nonesuch. In 2013 he released his first disc as an ECM Records artist, Arborescence,
which DownBeat’s J.D. Considine called “a forest-invoking solo-piano effort marked by wonderfully detailed narratives and
a harmonic palette worthy of Ravel.” Find the Way, an ECM trio session with bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart,
followed last year and garnered equally enthusiastic reviews.
On Little Big, Parks taps into the lessons he’s absorbed throughout those far-reaching experiences, while also
progressing some of the au courant sounds he investigated on Invisible Cinema. “This feels like the most personal record
I’ve ever made,” he says. What’s more, the album reflects his worldview, an outlook in which optimism and inclusion
supersede politics. “There’s a lot out there right now to protest against, and it feels like it’s the artist’s duty to create music
that reckons with the issues of the day. Nonetheless, this is not a protest record. It’s not against anything; it’s much more
for something. What we’re aiming to do is blend genres and ideas in an open and fluid way, so that structure and freedom
work together to serve the larger concept of the song. It’s a way of working together that feels representative of the kind of
world I could imagine many of us might want to live in.”
John Raymond & Real Feels
With a singular voice on the trumpet and flugelhorn, John Raymond is making his mark as one of the most promising, up-and-coming jazz musicians in the world. Recently dubbed as a Rising Star by Downbeat Magazine, John has performed with some of most well-respected names in jazz including Orrin Evans, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Billy Hart and Linda Oh among others. He has released five albums under his own name since 2012, all of which receiving critical acclaim from the New York Times, Stereogum, Downbeat, JazzTimes and more. John has also established himself as a sought-after educator, both as the Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Indiana University and as a guest clinician and soloist at schools around the world.
Raymond's Real Feels is a bass-less trio that includes Gilad Hekselman (guitar) and Colin Stranahan (drums), and the leader on flugelhorn. Together, they incorporate indie-rock, folk and electronic influences to both riveting original music and fresh takes on recognizable songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, Thom Yorke, Bon Iver, Paul Simon and more. Regardless of material, the band's improvisational, free-wheeling, “keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat” approach to the music makes each experience with Real Feels a new and captivating experience. It’s no surprise that they are one of the hottest, up-and-coming groups in jazz today.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a ONE DRINK MINIMUM for standing and bar stools, and TWO DRINK MINIMUM at tables.
Limited seating is available on a first come first served basis.
Advance tickets are available online until 5:30PM, day of show. Any remaining tickets can be purchased at the door at showtime.
Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2
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