Aaron Parks | Elastic | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Aaron Parks Recommended All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Feb. 20, 8 p.m. 2009

Moved from the Morse Theatre.

At least since Brad Mehldau released his version of “Exit Music (For a Film)” in 1998, Radiohead has been a favorite among jazz artists; Mehldau has gone on to record more of the band’s tunes, and Robert Glasper, the Bad Plus, and Chris Potter (among others) have all covered at least one. Pianist Aaron Parks, 25, has cited Radiohead as an influence, and his recent Invisible Cinema (Blue Note) makes it clear the band is a key influence on his own compositions. The album’s juxtapositions, tensions, and mutating arrangements often recall the work of Thom Yorke and company: on the tightly coiled “Nemesis” Parks’s dark, melancholy solo slowly builds over an insistently repeated single note while drummer Eric Harland hammers out an implacable 7/4 groove, and the episodic “Harvesting Dance” travels through frantic rhythms, plangent calm, and Middle Eastern modalities. Here as in his sideman gig with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, Parks likes to dig deep into harmony, and on the Invisible Cinema tracks with guitarist Mike Moreno his sound has an almost majestic grandeur. His swelling, dramatic sweeps across the keyboard add interest to the more active pieces, but they’re too much for a trifling ballad like “Praise,” pushing it over the line into sappy Jim Brickmanisms. Happily, the majority of Parks’s compositions are strong enough to stand up to his style. For his Chicago debut as a leader he’s joined by drummer Ted Poor and bassist Thomas Morgan. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15 suggested donation

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