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Aaron Parks - Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man

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Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man

Aaron Parks

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Jazz history romanticizes the 1950s and '60s as a time when bands – as distinct from ad-hoc assemblages of hired sidemen – were everywhere, evolving distinct conceptual ideas over months (years!) of performances and recording. Bands still exist, of course, but given economic realities, they're a more exotic species on the 21st century landscape. And they don't always last long enough for consequential year-to-year development, the furthering of an initial vision, to take root.

Which makes keyboardist Aaron Parks' quartet Little Big a minor miracle. The band surfaced in 2018 in New York with a book of tunes defined by a simple, declarative lyricism; its first album, issued late in the year, emphasized crisp polyrhythmic grooves and crystalline textures over the frothy gyrations of fusion.

Then the group, which features tone-obsessed guitarist Greg Tuohey, hit the road, where it had to balance the subtleties of the compositions against the demands of a "show." The results of that calibration are evident on the invitingly spacious second effort Dreams of a Mechanical Man. As before, the writing revolves around earnest, easily-sung themes, like the loose, slippery riff "Here." Now, though, new atmospheres – and often, new compositional ideas – appear along the way, rising up between solo statements. Parks uses these secondary themes as threads, gently connecting strands of melody to dazzling eruptions ("Friendo") or contemplative suite-like constructs ("The Shadow & The Self").

Parks' music has a spiraling intricacy, but his band never calls attention to that: Its cool-handed authority masks the internal-combustion complexities, throwing light on the beauty of the writing and the subsequent beauties they encountered while exploring. Only a band could do that. © Tom Moon/Qobuz

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Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man

Aaron Parks

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1
Attention, Earthlings
00:05:59

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

2
Here
00:05:44

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

3
Solace
00:07:13

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

4
Friendo
00:06:34

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

5
Is Anything Okay?
00:03:24

CHRIS TAYLOR, Composer - Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist - Greg Tuohey, Composer - David Ginyard Jr., Composer - Thomas Crane, Composer

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

6
The Shadow & The Self
00:07:20

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

7
The Storyteller
00:06:29

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

8
Dreams of a Mechanical Man
00:05:32

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

9
My Mistake
00:04:54

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

10
The Ongoing Pulse of Isness
00:07:16

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

11
Where Now?
00:03:22

CHRIS TAYLOR, Composer - Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist - Greg Tuohey, Composer - David Ginyard Jr., Composer - Thomas Crane, Composer

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

12
Unknown
00:06:57

Aaron Parks, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Ropeadope 2020 Ropeadope

Album Description

Jazz history romanticizes the 1950s and '60s as a time when bands – as distinct from ad-hoc assemblages of hired sidemen – were everywhere, evolving distinct conceptual ideas over months (years!) of performances and recording. Bands still exist, of course, but given economic realities, they're a more exotic species on the 21st century landscape. And they don't always last long enough for consequential year-to-year development, the furthering of an initial vision, to take root.

Which makes keyboardist Aaron Parks' quartet Little Big a minor miracle. The band surfaced in 2018 in New York with a book of tunes defined by a simple, declarative lyricism; its first album, issued late in the year, emphasized crisp polyrhythmic grooves and crystalline textures over the frothy gyrations of fusion.

Then the group, which features tone-obsessed guitarist Greg Tuohey, hit the road, where it had to balance the subtleties of the compositions against the demands of a "show." The results of that calibration are evident on the invitingly spacious second effort Dreams of a Mechanical Man. As before, the writing revolves around earnest, easily-sung themes, like the loose, slippery riff "Here." Now, though, new atmospheres – and often, new compositional ideas – appear along the way, rising up between solo statements. Parks uses these secondary themes as threads, gently connecting strands of melody to dazzling eruptions ("Friendo") or contemplative suite-like constructs ("The Shadow & The Self").

Parks' music has a spiraling intricacy, but his band never calls attention to that: Its cool-handed authority masks the internal-combustion complexities, throwing light on the beauty of the writing and the subsequent beauties they encountered while exploring. Only a band could do that. © Tom Moon/Qobuz

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