Aaron Parks: Predictability vs. Abstraction

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Aaron Parks is a Brooklyn based jazz pianist

The other night I was listening (again) to Aaron Parks‘ beautiful new ECM album Arborescence (the title refers to a resemblance to tree in form and branching structure). Like a lot of other music, Parks’ music does not reveal its beauties all at once. It takes several if not many listenings to fully appreciate its intricacies.

Aaron Parks’ new album, Arborescence

I like unpredictability in music. By that I don’t mean randomness. I like structure and key centers. But unpredictability offers surprise and mystery. It is certainly more abstract. With Mozart and Bach you get glorious symmetry; in the case of Bach you get a chambered-nautilus perfection. Mozart seems to use similar devices and sequences. Bartok doesn’t. Coltrane was filled with unpredictability, using lydian and other modes for a constant stream of changing ideas and relentless experimentation. Keith Jarrett too. Charlie Parker maybe less so, though Parker was a genius who gave us the II, V, I progression that is the foundation (and fun) of modern jazz.

Maybe the type of jazz practiced by Aaron Parks is more like abstract painting. It takes more work for the listener and viewer than, say, a portrait by Jacques Louis David. But in a more tabula rasa kind of way, it leaves the mind and imagination free to dream and wander.

Aaron Parks’ music might not appeal to people who prefer Dave Brubeck’s music. But it fascinates me and I will not tire of listening to it anytime soon. I listed it as one of my favorite albums of 2013.