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Horace Parlan, Jesper Lundgaard, Ed Thigpen: Relaxin’ with Horace

Horace Parlan has been off the domestic jazz scene for so long that’s it’s a pleasure to report that he’s still with us at all, let alone recording. Living in Denmark since 1973, Parlan is a spirited journeyman best known for a late ’50s stint with Mingus. If his dexterity isn’t what it used to be, his enthusiasm for improvising remains undiminished on Relaxin’ With Horace, an informal session recorded in the pianist’s living room.

Receiving effervescent rhythmic support from another Copenhagen resident, expatriate drummer Ed Thigpen-whose floating brushwork is worthy of intense study-Parlan takes his time over standards and the occasional original, reveling in a classic bop style untouched by modernist tendencies. A Scandinavian sojourn did wonders for a number of American bop pianists, including Duke Jordan and Kenny Drew; Parlan seems to have been similarly affected.

The album’s title couldn’t be any more on the mark; this isn’t grab-you-by-the-collar playing, it’s pensive and easygoing improvising-and more powerful for it. Out of sight may be out of mind, but don’t consign Parlan to the dustbin of jazz history just yet.

Originally Published