Jeff Parker — Suite for Max Brown
Best known as a guitarist with Chicago post-rockers, Tortoise, Jeff Parker’s latest solo release is a glowing celebration of his mother Maxine, who features on the cover. It works as companion piece to his 2016 tribute to his father, The New Breed.
Opening the record with his own daughter Ruby’s deadpan chant on ‘Build a Nest’, Parker ranges far and wide over the next forty minutes, gliding through tight hip hop grooves, loose improv jams and more straight ahead modern jazz, often within the same track.
‘Fusion Swirl’ begins with an urgent breakbeat and sinuous bassline, then takes a hard left with an introspective guitar coda. ‘Gnarciss’ is a brilliant, boom bap riff on Joe Henderson’s much sampled classic, ‘Black Narcissus’, with horns, strings and vibraphone working the theme. And the album culminates in the beautiful ten-minute piece, ‘Max Brown’, where a spare, loping drum groove allows ample airspace for the interwoven guitar, sax and bass lines.
It’s a fitting end to an exciting, uplifting set.
Bohren & Der Club of Gore — Patchouli Blue
In contrast to their foreboding name, Bohren & Der Club of Gore produce a mellow, if edgy, music, the kind of uneasy listening you might enjoy late at night in a sketchy, red-lit basement lounge.
The German trio have toured together for three decades, developing a species of slow motion jazz that, if your ears are open to it, casts a hypnotic spell.
The title track of their tenth album, ‘Patchouli Blue’, neatly sums up the Bohren philosophy: brushed drum strokes keep glacial time, piano and guitar notes hang for an age over a deep, drifting organ, while a rich saxophone fills the cavernous space above.
On another key track, ‘Vergessen & Vorbei’, tidal synth sequences wash against gorgeous Fender Rhodes chords, a ’70s drum machine tapping out a basic rhythm in the background.
The mood is both restrained and expansive, intimate and epic, and this album presents their unique sound in full effect.