By Bill Meyer | Published March 2022
Out of necessity, mobility begets both versatility and self-sufficiency. Guitarist Jeff Parker certainly gets around, geographically and stylistically. In a career that spans over three decades and is still evolving, he’s been an inveterate touring musician, based in either Chicago or Los Angeles.
And Forfolks confirms to his ability to create a complete and authentically broad musical experience using only tools that he can carry.
That knack manifests in several ways. Parker knows when to let a tune do the work. On “My Ideal,” a song that Frank Sinatra sang nearly 80 years ago, he eschews ornamentation, serving the melody by staying out of its way and affirming its sentiment with his yielding tone.
He also has good ideas about how to transform his material, as when he fills the places where Thelonious Monk let his piano ring “Ugly Melody” with continuous sounds pulled taffy-like from his digital delay. And on his own compositions, Parker uses pedals create a flexible creative environment. “Excess Success” is simple in conception but exacting in execution, as the guitarist phases a wah-wah in and out while a looped sequence of harmonics keeps rhythm. And on “Suffolk,” cumulative delay settings refract his stuttering phrases like a prism. In both cases, the separate elements don’t break down into foreground and background, but as related aspects of an orchestrated whole.
The title, Forfolks, speaks to another essential aspect of Parker’s music. As a sideman, he operates with equal ease in mainstream and underground settings. But when he makes a record of his own, there’s always a relatable quality that ensures you can play the record to regular folks.
Forfolks: Off Om; Four Folks; My Ideal; Suffolk; Flour Of Fur; Ugly Beauty; Excess Success; La Jetée. (40:19)
Personnel: Jeff Parker, electric guitar.
Ordering Info: nonesuch.com