Little Big are pianist/keyboardist leader Aaron Parks with guitarist Greg Tuohey, E-Collective bass guitarist David “DJ” Ginyard and drummer Tommy Crane. Gigs coming up include a Vortex 2-nighter in July.
What do we know so far?
First impressions, I will have to play the audio a few times more, but there is enough to be gleaned to be going on with. Above you will hear a lot of metrical switching or rather more the feel that there is narrative which is even better. And there is also a funk undertow cleverly written in and even more so a strong electric blues sensibility that means the music does not go too densely into a corner and keeps a certain clarity within the complexity.
There is much else besides on ‘Kid’ (recorded in Brooklyn in March) and plenty of very abstract harmony in the compositional “code” while the hum of electronics is a matte rather than a crappy gloss coating because the sound remains organic despite all the tech and voltage. Little Big as a moniker dates back to before January 2015 when the Parks band personnel for WinterFest New York gigging included former Madeleine Peyroux drummer Darren Beckett who recently gave a masterclass at the Derry jazz festival.
Background? Well, Parks is one of the top jazz pianists of his generation on the international scene. I first heard him playing as a member of Terence Blanchard’s Flow band at the Pizza. That was back in 2006 on the day Spike Lee was premiering his new documentary When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts in New Orleans, and the Blanchard band were playing ‘The Katrina Suite’. Parks has recorded as a leader briefly for Blue Note – Invisible Cinema got very good reviews – and I loved his solo piano album Arborescence released five years ago. The last I time I saw him play was in a band that featured bass guitarist Matt Garrison whose studio the video above was filmed in and saxist Zhenya Strigalev which was a relaxed Vortex affair when everybody seemed to enjoy themselves in the moment and the audience were, it is fair to say by looking at their faces, a splash of smiles, in seventh heaven.