By: Chris Robinson
Voting for Debut of the Year is Gonna Be Tough
Matt Parker, Worlds Put Together (BYNK). Released in May, Worlds Put Together was a pleasant surprise. Being unfamiliar with Parker, a Brooklyn based tenor saxophonist, and the rest of his band, save for drummer Reggie Quinerly, I had no idea what to expect. But not having expectations can be a great thing, as there is nothing from which to prefigure and bias your thoughts. The album opens with the waltz “Eye of Rico,” built on a raucous three note figure played by Parker and alto saxophonist Julio Monterrey. It then moves into a gentler piano solo and includes a crunchy solo by guitarist Josh Mease. Parker’s tone is fairly rough throughout – recalling to a small degree Ayler and Pharoah, although you can hear a little bit of the approach of folks like Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster in his playing. The overall recording has a raw and dynamic quality; it really feels alive and vital. Save for the 10 minute “Full Sun,” the cuts are all under five minutes in length, and a few are less than three. The tunes’ brevity gives them a sort of character piece feel. “Lists” is extremely dark and brooding. “Up and Down,” another tune in triple meter, is more playful and celebratory, and with two drummers and with collective improvisation, there’s a somewhat unbridled vibe. The only cover is “Darn that Dream,” a duet between Parker and Monterrey. The pair give it a left of center, outward-leaning reading that is decidedly non-balladic. The final third features Parker’s rapid runs, and the ending finds both men heading towards the upper ends of their horns, with Parker concluding with an altissimo squeal that’s perfectly in tune. At the end of the “Up and Down,” you hear someone say “that was awesome.” That phrase pretty much sums up Worlds Put Together, a stunning and stimulating recording. It’s one of my favorite albums of the year – be it debut or otherwise.