Aaron Parks, Ben Street, Billy Hart - Find The Way

Label/Year: ECM, 2017

Lineup – Aaron Parks: piano; Ben Street: bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Find The Way, the second ECM outing by praiseworthy American pianist Aaron Parks, flows steadily and unhurriedly as it keeps creating generous settings, each of them with delightful nuances to be discovered and savored. Opposing to his previous Arborescence, recorded solo, the new work flourishes in a classic piano trio with bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart providing reliable substrative integrity.

Both “Adrift”, the opening tune, and “Unravel”, which expresses a doleful sincerity, shine with Park’s soft and nice touches, conveying a fluid lyricism over a dawdling melancholy that recalls the style of Steve Kuhn and sometimes Bobo Stenson. Hart’s percussive work is outstanding on that first tune as he molds his own textures, changes, and readapts them once more according to what’s happening around him.

Far more static and stripped to its essentials, “Hold Music” exhibits harmonic voicings in rotation with the bassist playing straight like in a pop/rock song and Hart losing himself in that percussive airiness that forces any sturdy surface to bend and quiver.

Covered with glossy splendor, “Song For Sashou” immediately detaches from the whole due to a rich combination of melody and harmony on top of a foundation carrying a gently brushed bossanova touch attached. This piece ranks right below “Alice”, a powerful piece inspired by the modal journeys of Alice Coltrane, in the competition for the most outstanding piece on the album. On the latter, one can find the bassist adventuring himself in unexpected portions of the song, always in the company of the inventive drummer, whose pulse acquires a rock flow that vehemently drives us to a dramatic finale. The liquidity in Parks’ progressions bestows the same effect as an oasis in a desert, irrigating and nourishing on all sides.

While “First Glance” craves a sluggish awake and fulfilling quietude, “Melquíades” results in a Bill Evans-like mood. Not that the breathable, spontaneous lines of Parks sound similar to the acclaimed pianist, but because of the harmonic movements and diaphanous suspensions.

The title track is the only cover on the album, closing it with abandoned benediction. It was composed by pianist Ian Bernard and popularized by Rosemary Clooney, for whom the song was written.

Aaron Parks and his trio don’t have to move fast to dazzle. Floating and never atonal, Find The Way sets the abstraction levels to the minimum and marks stretches as non-priorities. It’s a modern creative work with a profound, strong personality that will make many listeners feel good.

        Grade  A-

        Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Song For Sashou ► 06 – Alice ► 09 – Find The Way