Aaron Parks – “Nemesis”

“Nemesis” comes from Aaron Parks’s 2008 Invisible Cinema, which features guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Matt Penman, and Eric Harland on drums. At just 28 years old, composer/keyboardist Parks has been recording and writing music since he has about 16, and he has developed his own wonderful, unique style.

The harmony of “Nemesis” moves coherently, but not without some great unexpected changes, and the melody is sophisticated and beautiful. Parks creates a rich atmosphere by employing not just piano but also mellotron, glockenspiel, and synthesizers. The piano plays repeated eighth notes on the same pitch, creating a drone effect, which provides the perfect accompaniment for Moreno’s statement of the melody and improvisation. Meanwhile, Penman and Harland lay down a heavy, head-nod-inducing 7/4 groove. Both Parks and Moreno bring great solos, sounding dark, complex, and melodically strong, against the dense texture beneath them. John Kelman, from All About Jazz, described this song as something a more sophisticated Radiohead might record, in his review at the time of the album’s release.

Aaron Parks is also a part of the collaborative project James Farm with Penman, Harland, and saxophonist Joshua Redman (whom I mentioned when I wrote about Brad Mehldau a few weeks back). That’s definitely worth checking out as well.

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