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Aaron Parks: Arborescence

Released eight days after the pianist turned 30, Aaron Parks’ Arborescence is understandably preoccupied with growth. If one’s first solo album is a rite of passage, this expansive, impressionistic outing sounds like a vision quest. For 50 minutes, Parks wanders through dreamlike landscapes, unafraid to have ideas before he knows what they are. Moments of realization throughout bring these 11 improvisations into focus-with transient cadences, lyrical upwellings and shifts in rhythm-flashing the forest for the trees.

Arborescence moves, if more by imagination than any formal sense of direction. “In Pursuit” is a six-minute experiment in repetition, with stubborn notes and phrases percussed insistently to incantatory effect. “Squirrels” is a short but detailed essay in jazz vernacular, pitched at a pace that recalls the zippy chittering of its namesake. Even the more spacious tracks (“Asleep in the Forest” and “Elsewhere”) develop their own kaleidoscopic torque.

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