Jeff Parker: 'This album is more about me seeking to exploit specific sonic environments'
- Stewart Smith
- 10 January 2020
Multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer discusses his new record, differing styles and a new generation of jazz innovators
Jeff Parker's Suite For Max Brown slinks into your consciousness via toothsome jazz licks and indelible grooves. The composer and guitarist's music has a comparable man-vs-machine aesthetic to Tortoise, the pioneering post-rock band he's been a member of since the early 1990s, but it's more oriented towards jazz, funk and hip hop than dub, electronica and the avant-garde. On 2016's The New Breed, Parker built upon a library of samples and beats he had made a decade prior, injecting a wonky underground hip hop sensibility into his jazz compositions. 'The New Breed was more concerned with the intersection of sample-based composition and improvisation,' he explains, 'There are remnants and overlap of that process on Suite For Max Brown, but this album is more about me seeking to exploit specific sonic environments, acoustically and sonically. There's a lot more stagnation, more loops.'
The new album mixes originals with reinterpreted jazz classics, including John Coltrane's ballad 'After The Rain', which found its way into the New Breed band's repertoire after Parker first played it on a trio gig with Makaya McCraven and Junius Paul in Chicago. It's a gorgeous composition, but as Parker notes, there's a hint of irony to the recording. 'I wanted to make a version with the FM electric piano sounds, as a nod to the fusion records that I came up listening to in the 80s, which somehow seemed so wrong but also really beautiful in the way that musicians were embracing technology and trying to do something creative within that.'