Jeff Parker & The New Breed - Suite For Max Brown
International Anthem starts 2020 much the same way it finished 2019, on the front-foot, re-shaping popular conceptions of modern jazz. Jeff Parker has a fairly long, storied history, closely tied to Chicago's 90s underground through his work with Tortoise, and barely resting since it seems, with a rich catalogue of recordings. Suite for Max Brown follows 2016's much lauded The New Breed (a title that also doubles as the name for the band he leads), though I think it's released into a much different environment than its predecessor. Jazz has always subsisted by virtue of the sustainability of its own internal (eternal?) ecosystem, but we see every day in the shop how wide its appeal has grown in recent years (and IA have helped determine that for sure). I think Parker is going to resonate with a good few because of his ability to mine jazz history for a few standards and re-animate in a distinctly forward-facing way. The Coltrane and Joe Henderson interpretations sit amongst modern production techniques that nod to some of the more cratedigging elements of hip hop and electronic music culture (i'm trying hard to not mention Dilla...but there's also a bit of Theo Parrish Black Jazz in here) in a way that makes ...Max Brown feel joyous and celebratory. This is why new American jazz has always done more for me than its British equivalents - it feels wider in scope and ambition, but less fussy too. It's an emotional thing, i think. And this has it in spades. Class apart, once again.
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