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Jeff Parker: Like-Coping

Chicago-based guitarist Jeff Parker hangs with the art-house crowd, and he’s made quite a bit of that association. His list of credits includes contributions to avant-rockers Tortoise, electro-fusionists Isotope 217 and the dark-jazz collective known as the Chicago Underground. But despite the edgy company, Parker saves a place in his heart for that mainstream jazz-guitar sound. The mellow-toned ax-slinger finally gets around to leading his own session with Like-Coping, and to anyone who’s paid attention to Parker’s playing elsewhere, this one won’t come as much of a surprise.

Parker’s style exists where the easier-going sonic experimentalism of the AACM and the chordal improvising of guitarists like Kenny Burrell meet. The guitarist prefers medium to slow tempos, a slightly murky tone and melodies made from chiming chords connected by as few as two or three notes sometimes. His limpid style leaves plenty of room for his trio mates, bassist Chris Lopes and drummer Chad Taylor-especially the latter, whose distinctive, integrated sound gives much personality to the music.

The band throws in a few raucous free improvisations, such as “Omega Sci-Fi” and “Holiday for a Despot,” just because they can, but the real action is in the more pacific offerings: “Miriam,” “Plain Song” and the title track. Though these tunes are light and airy on the surface, there are hidden turns and shadows not too far below.

Originally Published