At just 20 years old, Chris Parker is somewhat of a jazz phenomenon. His enviable resume and playing style make him an up and coming musician with a predictably bright future. Parker’s new album, his first as a bandleader, “Moving Forward Now” is available Oct. 6.
About Chris Parker
Throughout Indiana, there are places where jazz lives and thrives. Parker’s hometown of Bloomington is one of those places. Like so many Indiana kids, Parker was involved in jazz band in high school, but unlike numerous others, Parker stayed on his musical path throughout college. In fact, from the way his online resume reads, Parker is still pursuing his undergraduate education. Yet, his list of accomplishments make him competitive with graduate students and professionals.
If I mentioned all of Parker’s achievements, there would be no space to discuss his work. Some of the highlights of the drummer and saxophonist’s career to date include: Winning a Downbeat student award, playing with several professional jazz ensembles, jazz scholarships and teaching experience. He gives private lessons. Further, his interest isn’t just in jazz, he is well-versed in popular music, rock, Afro-Cuban, and others.
Parker’s resume makes people want to hear his CD. That was true for me, at least.
Chris Parker’s sound
Like most Americans, I have watched enough televised talent competitions to be weary of watching young people perform before a national audience before they are ready. As a result, I entered Parker’s world with a mix of hope and not-quite dread. I was pleasantly surprised.
“Moving Forward Now” is a mix of classics and originals. Parker includes jazz veterans like Dave Stryker in his ensemble. The songs range from “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” to “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” to the album’s title track.
“Battle Hymn of the Republic”
A lush soundscape plays a variation of what will become the song’s motif plays in the beginning. Before listeners can get too comfortable with that sound, the tempo picks up. A guitar plays what is usually the vocal line. After the song has gone through what sounds familiar, organ, guitar, and drum showcases take the song into a jazz improvisation-type of sound. This is the most rollicking “Battle Hymn of the Republic” has ever been.
“Moving Forward Now”
The signature track is a jaunty, urban-sounding tune. It sounds sophisticated. There is a hint of Dave Brubeck in the horn lines, and an upright bass that gets its moment to shine is a nice touch. Like Parker’s work on the rest of the album, the instrumentation is nicely packaged. It doesn’t sound like it is falling apart–ever. The piano and saxophone work well to push the song forward, to offer different motifs to listeners.
Audiences can imagine a journey of a young man from child to young man, working diligently toward his dream of becoming a professional jazz musician. At least that’s what I imagine here. In addition, I appreciate how all parts of the instrumentation are given a voice. Meaning, all instruments can be heard.
If “Moving Forward Now,” Parker’s debut album as a leader is any indication, the musician’s already packed resume will continue to grow. This is a mature and stellar effort.