Bradley Parker Sparrow's new release is an entrancing journey through several solo piano pieces that bridge the classical and jazz genres in a highly original manner. Bela Bartok, Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, Chopin and Liszt are among the touchstone artists mentioned in the liner notes, and that is no mistake. The references are all there and combined into a whole through the artist's singular vision.
From the opening notes of "Tico's Lust" (another version of which also closes the recording), it is clear that Parker-Sparrow's introspective sound is one in which the listener will want to immerse themselves. These organic pieces are melancholic and often minimalist. They are never showy (although there are some nice "riffs"), but always interesting and seem very well conceived. And unlike some reflective solo piano players that fall deeply into the self-referential, this is a player who is willing to share his inner world.
The sound of the grand piano is warm, dark and intimate, without the usual ECM-style layers of reverb. "My Space" continues the classical mood nicely, while "Walk, Don't Run" shows a more experimental, though no less compelling vein. Two of my favorites are "Earth Pavane" and the title track, but each of the numbers contains surprises and new discoveries with each listen. "New Black Swing" veers into blues and jazz more heavily, while "Magical Vision" is the memorable main theme from Michael Caplan's film of the same name. "Like Light Falls" lives up to its intriguing name, while "Be Still, My City" presents a timeless ode to the dark hours of the soul. Another highlight occurs when Joanie Pallato adds her wonderful vocals to the haunting "Show of Wonder," which breaks the mostly instrumental album into halves.
This Sparrow deserves kudos for this satisfying solo flight. Parker-Sparrow and Pallato and other Southport artists appear at Katarina's on the first Saturday of every month.