The Simple Life – Leon Parker
Label M 495730
I can't fault Leon Parker for his desire to expand his creative horizons.
when given the opportunity on an independent label, rather than a major one,
he probably encounters the type of encouragement that allows him to travel
among any new musical paths.
Parker starts off with a burst of inspiration by treating Duke Ellington's
Caravan to a minimalist arrangement. On it he steps away from his
in order to play body rhythm. It is what it sounds like, a matter of tapping
out rhythms on his body. Vocal and soprano saxophone accompaniment dress up
Still, Caravan as well as the next track, Everyday, are
hampered by the
sense that these are NPR-inspired numbers; jazz with a worldbeat influence
done in by a hermetically-sealed production that could be heard in the
background at some coffeehouse or used bookstore that also sells a lot of
incense and candles. On the first three tunes, Parker also uses vocalist
Elizabeth Kontomanou. Her
crystalline sound embellishes the Afrobeat textures he creates.
At this point, I'm at seven of the album's 15 tracks. From there, the
stylistic tendencies just repeat themselves until Parker departs for another
Fast Life attempts to raise the spirit of the swinging party jazz of
early '60s but loses steam through its timidness to let the groove take
control as well as by a scat vocal section. Evy’s Samba does a better
of reflecting this style and time period.
So, a compact disc that's barely 50 minutes in length uncomfortably strays
within three different musical worlds. Something more cohesive next time out
could make Parker's work more worthwhile.