The velvet curtain that covers Suite For Max Brown is gently pulled off to reveal an outstanding 11-track love letter dedicated to creation through soft, caresses of approachable jazz. Parker who plays over 15 separate instruments for the recording process brings a plateau where he is able to make leaps and bounds while still incorporating featured artists to fill in the blanks where he leaves off. Creating a leader situation, the style of ruling is less as a commander and more as a chairman on this council of sound.
Opening with “Build A Nest,” Jeff Parker features vocalization from Ruby Parker over a climbing piano run that bleeds into the rugged electric guitar. This clash of beauty and grace versus the organic rush of humanistic touch spawns a pedestal for the clean vocals to blend effortlessly. Suite For Max Brown is less about the rigid lines of genre and more about creating a record that is digestible from every side. Hip-hop fans can exist under tracks like “C’mon Now” or “Gnarciss” that features boom-bap production on the percussion and these gleaming melodies that undercut the intensity of drums. “C’mon Now” is similar to a J Dilla track that is short, running only 26-seconds, but sweet through vocal samples and an obtainable grasp on the ears.
“Gnarciss” is longer, but still is an attention-grabbing beast with saxophone from Josh Johnson that is the star of the spotlight. While the backing instrumentation from Paul Bryan on bass and Katinka Kleijn on the cello also hold a spot at the table, Johnson puts this workload on his back and carries the sound to new heights. Parker on Suite For Max Brown is astonishing in his transitional periods where small interludes or sudden shifts of chaos intertwine themselves and peel back to reveal the bones and foundation.
As he moves into the simple, but concrete work of “Del Rio,” Parker has these chord structures that work in dynamic teams to control. While one of the quickest tracks on the record, the one-minute and 38-second push is a burst of sunlight on an already basking album. This can be attributed to the mbira, which is an instrument that resembles a thumbed piano crafted from a range of either 22 to 28 metal keys attached to a hardwood board. Often placed inside of a large drum-esque tubing to amply resonance, the mbira lays down the rhythm and lets Parker dance with the idea of glee.
Before bouncing out of frame, Suite For Max Brown exemplifies some of the hidden gems that can only be heard through deep concentration and a pair of closed-ear headphones. Parker is a technical octopus with 16 limbs instead of the usual eight, playing a grand scale of sound over a brilliance of production and ability.
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