I Can't Help It
Tin Roof blues
ABout Matt Parker
A Fort Lauderdale, Florida native, jazz saxophonist Matt Parker connects the stylistic dots between Lester Young and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. At the age of 17, Parker visited New Orleans where he then stayed and played 10 hours a day, six days a week at The Gazebo in The French Quarter. Al Hirt invited the young Parker to play with him at his club on Bourbon street. Most recently, Parker appeared in the Blockbuster film John Wick starring Keanu Reeves, performed in South Africa with the Cape town Youth Choir, and began playing with The Mingus Big Band at The Jazz Standard.
Parker considers the years he played with the great Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band as two of the most formative years in his development. "Learning from one of the masters every night, traveling the world playing concerts and festivals 10 months out of the year you learn a thing or two about the music." Parker can be heard on M.F. Horn VI: Live at Ronnie Scott’s. His love for jazz has not stopped him from expanding his musical horizons. For the last five years he has been an integral part of Danish transatlantic dance band HessIsMore, playing to many of his other strengths including clarinet, flute and analog synthesizers. Parker moved to New York City in 1999 where he had the opportunity to both study and work alongside musicians such as Junior Mance, Jane Ira Bloom, Reggie Workman and Charlie Persip. "I've had the privilege to meet and play for so many of my heroes like Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder and Bebel Gilberto… Playing a sold out show with Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys was a real highlight.”
In 2013 he released his debut album of original music titled "Worlds Put Together" which includes a remarkable continent of players who are leaders in their own right, among them are bassist Alan Hampton, drummer Reggie Quinerly, guitarist Josh Mease, pianist Jesse Elder and his long time friend and collaborator saxophonist Julio Monterrey aka Youthfaire. It’s a band that navigates Parker’s classic-cum-modern style exceptionally well. Matt Parker can been seen playing in New York and abroad with a range of different ensembles: Matt Parker - Worlds Put Together (sextet), The Matt Parker Quartet and The Matt Parker Trio
“A warmly swinging showcase for his breathy, Ben Webster-esque flow,” said Time Out New York.
“It’s time to make the acquaintance of this rising star” effused Something Else Reviews.
Downbeat Magazine said Worlds Put Together was one of the Best albums of 2014 “Parker is restlessly inventive…This promising debut makes him an album-maker to keep tabs on.”
Matt is an official endorser for TM Custom Saxophones
Plays a TM Custom unlacquered tenor saxophone
Otto Link 8* hard rubber mouthpiece
La Voz med hard reeds
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Worlds Put Together
In Greenpoint, just outside his apartment, Matt Parker steps into the clunker he uses to tool around town: a 1997 Buick Park Avenue. Like its owner, the car is big and friendly, oddly cool, and undeniably built for a previous age. Parker places his diamond top fedora on the dash, where it rests as a kind of jazzman’s Saint Christopher statuette, and sets out for his gig in Manhattan. As he pulls out, he switches on an advance copy of this album. The leadoff track, “Eye of Rico,” greets the sleepy Brooklyn street with a wayward roar: saxophones belching; drums crashing. “This song is about hurricanes,” explains Parker, a Florida native. “It begins with everybody playing, chaos all around: THERE’S GOING TO BE A HURRICANE! Then, we wait for the storm. That’s a really uncomfortable calmness. In the song, it comes from Jesse Elder’s piano—it feels peaceful, but there’s something off. The third part is the actual storm, which reintroduces the opening dialogue between Julio Monterrey’s alto and my tenor. Finally, we get to the eye, represented by Josh Mease’s guitar. Being in the eye of a hurricane is one of the most amazing things. The sky opens up, birds are chirping. But it’s actually the most dangerous part. Everything is unsettled. That’s a big theme in this record—and a big part of my personality.”
Worlds Put Together is Parker’s first album as a band leader, but the saxophonist has been a fixture on stages for more than a decade. Just
glancing at his schedule can make one’s head spin. With Elder, he plays in the Candy Shop Boys, performing a slab of American music, often in burlesque shows. In 2s and 4s, Parker joins Monterrey—a musical friendship with roots in teenagehood—in improvised jazz. And with the pop group Hess Is More, Parker is a reliably charismatic presence: the rare saxophonist to breach the walls of New York rock clubs.
Parker steers his Buick onto the Williamsburg Bridge. On the stereo, his album has turned to softer sections: the sweet and spare “I Can’t Help It”; “Lists,” hinging on the mournful arco bass of Alan Hampton and rumbling drums of Reggie Quinerly; “WPT,” spotlighting the tap dancer Jimmy Sutherland. “As a sideman, I’m used to playing what somebody else wants to hear,” Parker says. “This record was the first time I was forced to play how I wanted to sound. And I surprised myself. I thought I was going to play these songs as I would on my gigs, playing the melody with a nice, pure tone. Instead, I ended up screaming through my instrument. The emotion and playing on the album doesn’t feel neat. I don’t sound calm. I sound like I have an army of people chasing me, and I’m running for my life.”
The car approaches Manhattan, lit up like the world’s most fabulous Christmas tree. Worlds Put Together gets to its sole non-original composition: Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Darn that Dream.” As with “New Bossa,” it pays tribute to the late trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, who employed Parker in his band during his final two years. “Maynard warmed up to this song every night,” Parker says. “He really knew showbiz. Every concert, he encored with the Rocky song. The audience would completely
Parker has passed the club where he is scheduled to perform; now, he’s just driving around killing time. The album reaches “Full Sun,” a climax of sorts that was inspired by Curtis Fuller and Benny Golson. “But it doesn’t feel like jazz to me,” Parker says. “A lot of the musicians are bringing something from outside the jazz world. Josh and Alan are singer-songwriters. Julio plays electronic pop, dance, Miami bass.”
The album hits its conclusion: “Zeynep’s Piano,” a lullaby featuring child voices and toy instruments. The unrest of the preceding tracks has dissipated, settling into an eerie calm. “These are the ending credits,” the saxophonist says. “It’s where I walk off into the sunset.” Parker eases his Buick to the curb to let out his passenger, and drives off to his night’s gig.
released on 01 May 2015
Matt Parker – tenor / soprano saxophone
Julio Monterrey – alto saxophone
Jesse Elder – piano
Josh Mease – guitar
Alan Hampton – bass
Reggie Quinerly – drums
Mikkel Hess – drums (#6)
Jimmy “Taps” Sutherland – tap dance (#4)
Zeynep, Noah, Bora, Ezra, Charney, Sharon, Shana Bromberg – vocals (#10)
Recorded on January 16th and 17th, 2012 in Brooklyn, NY at The Bunker Studio
engineered by Aaron Nevezie
Produced by Alan Hampton and Matt Parker
Mixed by Pete Rende
Mastered by Dave Darlington at Base Hit Records
All songs written by Matt Parker and registered with ASCAP except Darn That Dream, music by Jimmy Van Heusen.