Suite For Max Brown was released way back in January. In the context of this year, that seems like a different epoch. In fact, when compiling this list, I had to remind myself that Jeff Parker’s magnificent collection qualified as a 2020 release.
What an amazing album. A love letter dedicated to his mother, it crosses multiple genres and fuses them wonderfully. At its heart, it’s a jazz album, built largely around Parker’s masterful guitar playing. But there is so much more going on here. There is soul, hip-hop and electronica, It is mellow and cool, hypnotic and transfixing. It simply breezes through the eleven tracks in an economic thirty-nine minutes. No filler, no fat. Every second counts.
And so many great individual tracks. Build A Nest, featuring the voice of Parker’s daughter, Ruby, opens up proceedings. It is beauty personified.
Fusion Swirl is…well, just what it says on the tin. It’s a swirl of beats fused with whoops and hollers and popping bass on top of an electronic loop. It’s hypnotic in its repetition, drawing you in like a shaman, before it suddenly drops and suspends you in mid air whilst a guitar lick repeats in the distance.
The cover of John Coltrane’s After The Rain is superbly executed. Here, Jamire Williams’s drumming is evocative and faithful to the original whilst Parker’s guitar takes on Coltrane’s role as lead. 3 for L has the most gorgeous jazz guitar imaginable whilst in Gnarciss, Josh Johnson’s alto sax intertwines seamlessly with the trumpet of Rob Mazurek, both swooping over Katinka Kleijn’s cello.
It truly is an outstanding album, perfect for those long, blissful Christmas holiday days by virtue of its laid back mellow vibe. Stick it on the turntable, lie back and enjoy.
Key track: After The Rain