It is 'Present Time' for the Matt Parker Trio on New BYNK Records Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt | Feb 26, 2016 05:50 PM EST
Sax man Matt Parker is in 'Present Time' on new CD. (Photo : courtesy Terri Hinte Public Relations)

Leave it to Matt Parker to follow up his 2013 Worlds Put Together debut -- which had his tenor sax augmented by bass, drums, piano, guitar and alto sax -- with Present Time (on his own BYNK Records), surrounded by only bass (Alan Hampton) and drums (Reggie Quinerly). It's a brave, bold move. No piano or guitar to fill in the chord changes? Parker also blows some soprano here as well as pounding a big gong.

Seven out of the nine tracks are original. The two covers are, in a word, exquisite. America first fell in love with "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)" when Louis Armstrong recorded it in 1930. Charles Mingus wrote "Song to Keki" for his daughter but you can only hear the legendary bassist perform it in 20-second and 46-second versions on piano in the documentary film Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968. Parker has been performing with the Mingus Big Band of late and had to get special permission from Sue Mingus, his wife, who originally named the tune.

Parker can blow some blues ("Noah's Arc"), put two distinct melodies together on one piece ("New Horizons"), support a vocalist with lyrical lines like Prez playing behind Lady Day in the '40s (on three tracks), switch time signatures within the 7:11 title track and, most fun of all, get it on by banging a gong on "The Gong."

Here, he had the big gong set up to where he could reach it despite his two saxophones slung around his neck. Hitting it with his trusty mallet before taking off on free-form flights of fancy, he ends the craziness by blowing on both simultaneously like another hero of his, Rahsaan Roland Kirk [1935-1977]. Since there's no video for the track, we do not know if Parker's eyes rolled up in the back of his head as he blew two horns at once like the sightless Kirk used to do in the 1960s.

Parker, born in 1979 Florida, was saved by music from having to go to reform school at 14. He left home early for the wildness of The French Quarter of New Orleans where he performed at The Gazebo Café six days a week. Relocating to New York City in 1999, he joined Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band in 2004 for two years before jamming with Beastie Boy Ad-Rock and "drag king" Murray Hill. He ended up on television being seen on The Real Housewives of New York. Don't ask. There's no telling where or with whom he'll show up next.

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