By: HRAYR ATTARIAN
Genre bending saxophonist Matt Parker’s debut album, Worlds Put Together, is a collection of mostly short pieces that crackle with originality and are imbued with an urgent and imaginative spontaneity. These are not mere sketches for expanded and more developed future compositions. They are conceptually crystalized, complete yet free-flowing and raw works that pack a visceral and intellectual punch.
The atmospheric “Lists,” for instance, opens with bassist Alan Hampton’s mystical and resonant bowing over drummer Reggie Quinerly’s intriguingly dark rumble. The other musicians follow in a somber and otherworldly procession. Parker’s beseeching and guttural tenor echoes in the background.
This kind of cinematic flair marks almost all of the tracks. The gripping “Alien Baby” evolves from furious group play replete with howling saxophones and manic percussion to a quiet yet eerily strange mellifluous ballad, one that unfolds in a desolate and poetic sonic landscape. The tune stands in stimulating contrast to the playful lullaby “Zeynep’s Piano,” which features Parker at his most laid back, letting loose his rough-hewn but gentle tenor over children’s wordless singing and toy instruments.
A sharp wit and subtly irreverent whimsy reappear periodically. Parker and altoist Julio Monterrey, for example, deconstruct the sole standard “Darn That Dream” down to its very essence. Elsewhere on “WPT” Parker matches his honking saxophone with tap dancer Jimmy “Taps” Sutherland’s intricate and fast paced footwork. The rest of the band concludes the track by restating the galloping and deeply melodic theme.
The centerpiece of this unconventional and engaging record is the intensely intimate “Full Sun.” Hampton’s pizzicato reverberations and Quinerly’s gentle cymbal strikes set the mood. Pianist Jesse Elder’s contemplative, warm lines flow, with an occasional delightful atonality, over insistent rhythms and guitarist Josh Mease’s electrifying swells of sound. Parker’s own fervent and dramatic improvisation is quite exploratory, though melodious and with plenty of understated humor.
What makes Worlds Put Together an accomplished and brilliant release is its ingenuity and its inventiveness. Parker has arrived on the creative music scene a fully formed artist—one with his own unique voice and singular vision.