Very, very superior crooning styled in a retro horn blended classic Blue Note Duke Pearson-like heyday setting updated a bit with Rhodes-y touches sprinkled in on Marvin Parks’ marvellous self titled debut new this month on Schema, formats including double vinyl.
What springs to mind instinctively? Well listen to a bit of Jamie Davis taking on a Johnny Hartman favourite. Parks’ voice is a little higher but equally soaked in classic Great American Songbook but resists the urge to be overly creamy or load up the tired old clichés of the sound that a lot of supper club singers like to pile on as a short cut.
An American singer now based in Paris his album was produced by hugely astute taste making guitarist/DJ Nicola Conte, the Italian band includes Conte and was recorded in a Bari studio in Italy during a couple of bouts in 2015 first off, some more vocal overdubs laid down the following year. Remembering: Parks impressed on ‘If I Should Lose You’ done as a fast samba with a fine solo from Italian alto-sax great Rosario Giuliani on Conte’s 2014 album Free Souls.
Advanced freebop alto star Logan Richardson guests on the Cahn/Styne classic ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’ and on the Parks/Conte co-write ‘African Other Blues.’ Parks can really swing, it is a joy to hear someone who can really do this and not fake it at all, ‘Charade’ proves that, not even needing spelling it out in the second specifically designated of the two versions of the Mercer-Mancini song from the 1963 Stanley Donen-directed film of the same name.
The Rhodes-y instrumental Marvin Gaye-like intro to ‘Awakening,’ (eg the feel of the first bars of ‘Mercy, Mercy Me [The Ecology]’ set here by Pietro Lusso on keys plus fine drums and percussion) sent me into the zone most, the best song of all here, a Parks co-write with José James, which is quite superb in its poised evocation of sensuous seduction. ‘If I Should Lose You’ is reprised once again picking up from its success on Free Souls on this new album, the alto soloist shooting the breeze on this occasion a passionate Daniele Tittarelli. SG
Vinyl release 21 April
The conscious ‘Brother Where Are You’ by Oscar Brown Jr and Norman Curtis, track six, first covered by Abbey Lincoln in the late-1950s on Abbey is Blue and done here in a Gil Scott-Heron-like instrumental backing style from Marvin Parks (****) can be heard top