Album of the Year

By: S. Victor Aaron

Matt Parker – Worlds Put Together: Even given the expanded definition of what is “real” jazz, Worlds Put Together often comes right up to my imaginary fence that separates this music from the avant garde. Parker’s big, scary, emotional tone sometimes conjures up the spirit of Albert Ayler. And like Ayler, he’s unafraid to integrate simple, almost child-like melodies within advanced harmonics.

But Parker is more like Ayler without creating the urge to reach for Excedrin; there’s joy and fun in everything he does. That’s the kind of attitude that led me to also compare him to Rahsaan Roland Kirk in the original review, not to mention that his chops approach those of this imposing sax master. It’s Parker’s daredevil approach to his craft and the earnestness with which he takes those risks that puts this record over the top, ahead of some by some very highly regarded musicians.

All the more astonishing when considering that this is his debut album. Parker dutifully worships at the mantle of tradition (he sublimely covers “Darn That Dream”) but then turns it on its ear (as with “Eye of Rico”). Or is that “knocks it on its ass”? Either way, it’s a joy ride from one corner of the idiom to the opposite one.