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Hear Pianist Aaron Parks and 'Little Big,' Boldly Expanding Jazz's Sonic Palette, In Our Studio

It’s been a decade since pianist Aaron Parks released his debut album, Invisible Cinema, which blurs the line between jazz and rock. After a prolonged absence from that sonic trajectory, he has issued an update with Little Big. He and his band came into our studio this week to perform live on The Checkout.

Although Parks is only 35, he’s quietly been a staple in modern jazz, churning out under-the-radar recordings as both a sideman and a leader. Within the last decade, he has collaborated with heavy players across the generational spectrum, from trumpeter Terence Blanchard to saxophonist Joshua Redman to guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Parks’ jazz interests have remained obvious, but lurking beneath that creative spirit lies an enduring fascination with rock and electronic music. His latest band unlocks those predilections in much more deliberate fashion. Along with Parks, the group features Greg Tuohey on guitar, David Ginyard on bass, and Tommy Crane on drums.

Watch the band perform “Aquarium” in our studio, below. The full video from this session can be found on The Checkout's Facebook page.

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In making Little Big (Ropeadope), Parks strayed further from jazz by enlisting recording engineer Daniel Schlett, whose credits include The War On Drugs and Ghostface Killah, and the audio mixer, bassist, and producer Chris Taylor, from the indie-rock outfit Grizzly Bear. The outcome is what Parks describes as a “psychedelic journey” — but it’s more precise, lyrical, and deliberate than that description connotes. It’s just beautiful music, with lasting, resonant melodies that listeners can hold on to. 

Aaron Parks celebrates the release of Little Big at Le Poisson Rouge on Dec. 19.

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For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.