Guitarist Jeff Parker thrives on collaboration, spending years in the instrumental rock band Tortoise, leading his own nimble trio and collaborating with Rob Mazurek in the Chicago Underground Quartet. At this year’s Jazzfest Berlin, though, he shares his lyric solo practice heard last year on the album “Forfolks”.
Jeff Parker: “Forfolks”
Guitarist Jeff Parker, one of the most versatile musicians of the last three decades, is an inveterate collaborator, creating genre-agnostic music in loads of disparate constellations, including long-term membership in the Chicago instrumental band Tortoise and an even longer connection to cornetist Rob Mazurek. But when the pandemic prevented him from joining forces with other musicians he turned inward, creating miniature symphonies all by himself. His 2021 solo album “Forfolks” collides jazz standards like “My Ideal” and Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty” with his own gem-like themes, some of which he’s interpreted in previous contexts. Regardless of the material, Parker constructs poignant vignettes build from indelible melodies and spiked harmonies that continue to open up with each listen. He uses simple loops to build appealingly rustic structures that contain his improvised lines, while elsewhere he trusts his spindly figures to shape contrapuntal arrangements in real-time without any pedals. Whether conjuring microscopic sound studies or lush lyricism, considering his aesthetic, it’s anyone’s guess what’s on tap with this solo performance, but it will surely blend the familiar with the unknown.
Jeff Parker guitar