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Gil Parris: Blue Thumb

Gil Parris is another Berklee alum; however, instead of producing a predictable bebop product, his recent Blue Thumb (Okra-Tone) reflects something more personal and ambitious in terms of its stylistic span and ensemble makeup, the core of which includes drummer Terry Silverlight, keyboardist Phil Magallanes and bassist Harvie S. The title track opens things and recalls Wes Montgomery’s post-Riverside work, in that it has a slicked-back rumba veneer that, despite its mannered, somewhat corny vibe, supports some fluid jazz-based guitar work. “There Was a Time,” an off-center ballad, features Tower of Power’s David Mann on soprano and finds Parris primarily playing ensemble parts and fills. Tenorman Eric Alexander guests on the moody but funky ballad “Curved Corner,” and while sax tends to dominate the track, Parris gets in some scorching, quirky blues licks. This material may be a bit too eccentric and eclectic for some mainstream jazz fans, but it does reflect the leader’s versatility and admirable desire to do something that’s a bit beyond the norm.

Originally Published