Rick Parker
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Rick Parker

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The best kept secret in music


"New York Gravity (AAJ 11/19/03)"

The Rick Parker Collective proves that its possible to be groundbreakingly innovative in 4/4 time, at least most of the time. These days the opposite is thought to be true - that changing the time is the only way to go. To be on the cutting edge you have to be messing around with alternative time signatures. I like to call it Potter-Colleyitis (if you are in the know, you know what I mean).

The album's title, coined by guest trumpeter Thad Wilson, describes the force that sucks musicians up from their home turf and brings them to the city of New York, considered by many as the capital of the jazz world... in Parker's words "due to the intense creative energy that exudes from every facet of the city." The trombonist goes on to say that "[Thad is] ironically...the one musician in the group who has still not given it to the city's pull."

I personally saw the old "Thad Wilson Big Band" in D.C. many times and one night even sat in with them on tenor to fill a spot. That group was then in residency at D.C.'s HR-57, to which Wilson truly helped bring public attention. Back then, HR-57 didn't have a liquor license, so the audiences were sparse at times, but the band (whose personnel often changed) certainly had a following among young and old folks alike.

The music on New York Gravity speaks for itself, and each tune speaks from a different part of the group as a whole, or collective. Many of Parker's pieces are introspective and show signs of a musician searching for his own voice both as a soloist and composer. Wilson contributes a free "New York Gravity," with horn punches and hits that signify that "sucking" nature of New York as a magnet for jazz musicians. Bassist Matt Grason contributes the minimalistic plaintive ballad "Thank You," on which Parker's somberly introspective trombone guides the three-horn line (of trombone, flugel, and bass clarinet) in perfect harmony while later taking his most emotional solo of the album.

Reedist Charis Ioannou excels on the ballads; however on the opener he struggles to keep his sound firm as he stretches out and plays lots of notes. Later he redeems himself on his composition "Going Out" and "Transitation," conceived by Parker the day before Thanksgiving while in traffic between New York and Washington. Drummer Kyle Struve really shines along with the horns on Parker's "The New Path."

Parker's leadership, writing, and sound truly show signs of a budding star trombonist. You musicians and listeners out there should watch for these cats to be making great strides in the next few years as they all settle into their new home, New York.

Review by Matthew Merewitz - All About Jazz (online version)

"New York Gravity (AAJ 2/9/05)"

New York Gravity is an object lesson in how hard bop may be kept applicable to the 21st Century. There isn't a false or dishonest note on the entire album. Instead of recycling the improvisational or compositional strategies of the early 1960s, these musicians dance through a rigorous array of changing time signatures and hip chord changes that could only exist here and now. At the same time, they swing with a ferocity and focus that could only have arisen from the spirited application of the lessons of the original hard boppers themselves.

Young trombonist Rick Parker is yet another powerful young jazz musician to be reckoned with. His tone is sturdy, even massive at times. He has imposing chops but he doesn't flaunt them; in this he recalls Grachan Moncur III. The inventive variety of his compositions, with their shifting time signatures, may also bring Moncur to mind. The sidemen are similarly impressive. Although saxophonist Charis Ioannou, for example, may initially recall Joe Henderson, he splashes notes around in a personal and promising fashion.

But the Rick Parker Collective is a working unit, and it is as a band that they make their strongest showing, and their best impression. They play as if gliding on well-oiled ball bearings, smoothly negotiating the tricky twists and turns of Parker's tunes. They sound very together and they swing hard. The tempo and thematic transitions are flawlessly executed. Whether it's the crackling swing of ”Transitation” or the urgent push of “Going Out,” New York Gravity sounds strong throughout. The Rick Parker Collective is ready.

Review by Marc Meyers - All About Jazz (online version)

"New York Gravity (AAJ 2/11/04)"

Trombonist/composer/leader Rick Parker and his band are the best-kept secret in New York right now. But in light of this fine debut and a steadily growing live demand, the secret's not likely to be kept much longer.

At 25, Parker is already a tested vet, sharing his horn talents with Frank Ku-umba Lacy's colossal Vibe Tribe, the Charli Persip Superband, and his own trio, in addition to the sextet featured here. A Connecticut-born Yankee, Parker started out playing in ska bands before meeting up with his mentor, esteemed DC-area trumpeter/flugelhornist/composer Thad Wilson.

Ironically, it was session guest Wilson, the only player here who has not succumbed to Gotham's residential lure, who penned the title piece. Opening the album and boldly establishing the group's hard bop M.O., “New York Gravity” is a disorienting ride through Midtown's chaotic, claustrophobic streetscape. With its Monkish, angular arrangement, it also boasts an excellent downward-spiraling break from drummer Kyle Struve.

On “Experiment in Mist-ery” and “Thank You,” bassist Matt Grason and pianist Andrew Haskell ably conjure the moody, rain-swept backdrop of the classic Coltrane Quartet's most introspective moments; “M.C. Filmmaker” boasts Haskell's welcome, novel use of Fender Rhodes, recalling The Doors' “Riders on the Storm” or any number of '70s R&B chillers—no bad thing at all. The band's secret weapon is Charis Ioannou, on soprano and tenor saxes and bass clarinet. Tracks like the explosive “The New Path” and the appropriately sinister “10/31 at Dusk” feature Parker's lusty smears and patented skewed horn charts, but also give Ioannu ample ceiling height with which to blow his (and our) brains out.

At times dissonant but overflowing with the smoky noir of early Lounge Lizards, New York Gravity is a winning fist effort, one that pulls of the tricky task of being both fresh and familiar. Fans of modern as well as slightly bent straight-ahead sounds will devour it, eagerly awaiting Parker's next outing.

Review by Peter Aaron - All About Jazz (online version)

"New York Gravity (AMG)"

Trombonist Rick Parker is rapidly developing as a leader/composer/arranger who exhibits tremendous creativity and musicality. On New York Gravity, the Rick Parker Collective comes out smoking on Thad Wilson's track of the same name and immediately pulls you into their gravitational field. Wilson, who also appears as a guest trumpeter/flügelhornist on the CD alongside Chris Ioannou on soprano/tenor saxophones and bass clarinet, Andrew Haskell on piano and Fender Rhodes, Matt Grason on double bass, and Kyle Struve on drums, places the emphasis on swing and does so in a big way. Parker is no less hard-driving on his trombone solos, and once heard on "Experiment in Mist-ery," he steps aside to let Wilson's rapid-fire lines take over. His dizzying array of quotes sets the stage for the mysterious sound of Ioannou's soprano sax, and this gripping performance hints that there are perhaps more musical sides to the freer art than previously expected. Parker wrote all of the songs except the title track, "Thank You," and "Going Out," yet all three songs were contributed by musicians who also performed on this session. With New York Gravity, the Rick Parker Collective has blazed "The New Path" for modern jazz enthusiasts, one that can be recommended for constant travel in your musical journeys. Top picks: "New York Gravity," "Transitation," "The New Path," and the burner "Going Out."

Reveiw by Paule Edelstein - All Music Guide (www.allmusic.com)

"New York Gravity (JazzRevew.com 2002)"

The Rick Parker Collective is a group of musicians drawn together by the attraction of the New York City jazz scene to young, up and coming players. This group’s new CD release New York Gravity contains high energy, innovative and cutting edge modern creative sounds with a freewheeling and open ended approach to jazz improvisation. While the group creates angular melodies reminiscent of Thelonious Monk and pushes the boundaries of playing over chord changes or modes, the Rick Parker Collective still remains within a straight ahead harmonic framework. Of the ten tunes on the CD, seven are originals by Parker, with three contributed by sidemen Thad Wilson, Matt Grason, and Charis Ioannou.

Tunes of particular note to this listener include the title cut, “New York Gravity” that opens the recording, and sets the pace for the CD with an up tempo, angular head, and solos that unfold bursts of energy over a repetitive groove played by the bass. Also of interest is the interplay between Parker’s trombone soloing and the interactive counterpoint of Ioannou’s bass clarinet on the cut “On the Move.” The piece that follows, “Transitation” is a fun, boppish, up tempo swinger with driving solos by pianist Andrew Haskell, trombonist Parker, and Ioannou’s tenor saxophone. By far, this listener’s favorite selection is “The New Path.” In the liner notes Parker indicates that this was one of his first compositions. The piece holds true to the composer’s description of being inspired by a feeling of optimism—that mood certainly comes through in the music.

The Rick Parker Collective is a group of accomplished musicians who are continuing to hone their craft. New York Gravity is an invigorating collection of musical ideas that are simultaneously artistically witty enough to “hook” the ear, while remaining stimulating to one’s musical intellect. This CD is highly recommended to those listeners seeking energetic and inventive sounds and leads one to look forward to the next project by the Rick Parker Collective.

Tracks: New York Gravity, Experiment in Mist-ery, M.C. Filmmaker, Thank You, On the Move, Transitation, The New Path, The Exit, Going Out, 10/31 at Dusk

Reveiw by Craig W. Hurst - JazzReview.com

"New York Gravity (Washington Post 1/31/03)"

Trombonist Rick Parker, a recent Georgetown University graduate, is now based in New York and, to judge by his debut CD, becoming thoroughly immersed in the sounds of Gotham. But he hasn't entirely cut his ties to Washington.

Trumpeter Thad Wilson, who leads his own jazz orchestra in the District, plays dual roles on "New York Gravity" -- he's the author of the album's title track and an instrumentalist responsible for much of the music's drama and vibrancy. In fact, the album's opening cuts -- "Gravity" and the Parker-penned atmospheric ballad "Experiment in "Mist-ery" -- establish the Collective's modern thrust, with push-pull arrangements that shift from a static pulse to swing motion and horn parts that sometimes spill out of hard-bop patterns into splashes of dissonance.

The introduction of a Fender Rhodes keyboard on "M.C. Filmmaker," played by Andrew Haskell, later conjures a slice of fusion-etched noir. Along with bassist Matt Grason's haunting ballad "Thank You" and Parker's colorfully woven ballad "The Exit," it inspires the most subdued and consistently expressive trombone performances. The latter piece is also warmly enhanced by the sound of Wilson's flugelhorn and reedman Charis Ioannou's deft doubling on soprano sax and bass clarinet. "Transitation," another electric keyboard outing for Haskell, albeit a more whimsical one, and the outgoing "Going Out," vigorously animated by Haskell and drummer Kyle Struve, help round out an impressive debut.

Review by Mike Joyce - Washington Post

"Fresh Music From Fresh Sound New Talent"

The New York trombonist/leader and his group could be labeled as modern cool. In his mid-twenties Parker has forged a very nice recording and critics have quoted his band as the “best-kept secret in New York..,” With sharp writing the music is interesting, harmonious, and supported by a seminal group of young artists. The first five selections on the recording swing and groove with spicy horn arrangements and tempos and the last five are just as good with moments of creative energy on “On the Move” with touches of clarinet and Parker's warm trombone. The closing piece “10/31 At Dusk” is a personal favorite with its cool middle Eastern rhythm. 'Bone enthusiasts from JJ Johnson to Steve Turre, as well has those looking for some hip new sounds should definitely take a look.

Review by Mark F. Turner - All About Jazz (online version)


- New York Gravity (Fresh Sound/New Talent), Rick Parker Collective
- A Work In Progress, Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra
- Riot at the Mardi Gras Dance Hall, One Too Many.


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Young trombonist Rick Parker is yet another powerful young jazz musician to be reckoned with.” (Mark Meyers, All About Jazz) Since relocating to New York in August of 2001, Rick Parker has performed at several of the city’s major jazz clubs including Blue Note, Birdland, the Jazz Standard and the Jazz Gallery. His primary musical project, the Rick Parker Collective, is a critically acclaimed sextet that has been called “the best kept secret in New York right now.” (All About Jazz) The group performs all original music at venues including Blues Alley, Somers Point Jazz Festival, Chris’s Jazz Café, Kavehaz, Knitting Factory, Cornelia Street Café and his first CD, New York Gravity, was released on the Fresh Sound New Talent record label in 2004. Rick also leads an improvised electronic music group called Ambient Assault which consists of electric trombone, keyboards and two drummers. His other musical endeavors include the world renowned trombonist/composer Ku-umba Frank Lacy’s 14 piece Vibe Tribe and legendary drummer Charlie Persip’s big band. He is also the musical curator of the Jazz series at Brooklyn’s Laila Lounge.

A prolific composer, Rick was named a winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards for 2004/2005. In April of 2002 and 2003, he participated in the Kennedy Center’s “Betty Carter Jazz Ahead” invitation only workshop for composers/soloists where he studied under jazz icons such as Curtis Fuller, Eric Reid and John Clayton. In March 2002 he was named runner up in the Eastern Trombone Workshop National Solo Competition. Since graduating from Georgetown University with a BA in economics in 2001, Rick recently received his MM in Jazz Performance and Composition from New York University in 2003.

Born in 1978, Rick has already performed with such jazz greats as George Benson, Grady Tate, Eddie Henderson, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, Cecil Bridgewater, Frank Lacy, Greg Tardy, Myron Walden and Andrew White in venues around the world including the Montreux Jazz Festival, Berkshire Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Blue Note, Birdland, Sweet Rhythm, Jazz Gallery, Blues Alley (DC), Chris’ Jazz Café (PA), Jazz Club (Argentina) and Oliveria Always (Argentina). He has studied with Conrad Herwig, Frank Lacy, Steve Davis, Mike Holober and Thad Wilson.