Mariah Parker, Windows Through Time Review


Mariah Parker, Windows Through Time Review

by Jeff Becker

Mariah-Parker-Jazz-Sensibilities-cdMariah Parker’s latest album, Windows Through Time, explores Latin jazz, weaving together memorable compositions, a stellar ensemble, and profound themes. Parker has established herself in the genre as a pianist, composer, and bandleader. Windows Through Time follows her critically acclaimed releases, Sangria and Indo-Latin Jazz Live in Concert, further solidifying her reputation for genre-bending brilliance.

Parker’s piano shines throughout the album, supported by an ensemble of extraordinary musicians, each contributing their unique voice to the project. This collaboration brings together the talents of Paul McCandless on saxophone, whose lyrical phrasing adds depth and emotion. Matthew Montfort’s distinctive scalloped fretboard guitar offers a textural complexity that complements Parker’s compositions beautifully. The versatile Gary Brown anchors the rhythm section on bass and the dynamic Mark Walker on drums, providing a solid foundation for the ensemble’s explorations.

The album also features standout contributions from Claudia Villela’s ethereal vocals, Sascha Jacobsen’s expressive bass lines, and the intricate percussion work of Daniel Feldman and Michaelle Goerlitz, whose interplay adds a vibrant layer of rhythm. Kash Killion’s bass and Ian Dogole’s inventive use of cymbals and cajon further enrich the album’s diverse soundscape. Together, this ensemble navigates through Parker’s compositions with precision and passion.

Windows Through Time is a collection of seven songs that builds on the lush and romantic sounds of traditional Latin jazz while incorporating elements of modal exploration, rhythmically complex passages, and a varying sonic palette of instruments. The music ranges from the ethereal beauty of “The Very Wings” to the vibrant energy of “Espíritu Samba,” creating a captivating flow of moods. The album’s brilliance lies in exploring unique elements and techniques within each composition.

“The Very Wings” sets the tone with a hauntingly beautiful soundscape. The dissonance in the melody creates a sense of mystery, while the interplay between McCandless’ saxophone and Montfort’s scalloped fretboard guitar is a marvel of sonic fusion. Montfort’s instrument adds a layer of expressiveness, allowing him to bend notes in unexpected and evocative ways.

The title track, “Windows Through Time,” showcases the ensemble’s mastery of dynamics and collaboration. Villela’s wordless vocals soar over Parker’s supportive piano, creating a sense of majesty and allure. McCandless’ expressive saxophone solo adds a conversational touch, weaving seamlessly into the melodic tapestry.

The vibrant energy of Spain comes alive in “Sol de Barcelona.” The strong Flamenco influence is undeniable, evident in the melody, rhythmic flow, and Walker’s dynamic drumming. Daniel Feldman and Michaelle Goerlitz’s percussion adds depth to the rhythmic structure. The montuno section explodes with individual brilliance, each musician showcasing their solo inventiveness between the three percussionists.

“Espírito Samba “pulsates with an infectious energy. The samba groove, built upon a foundation of shifting sections and a cleverly utilized 7/8 time signature, keeps the listener enthralled. Parker’s melodic solo displays a sophisticated understanding of harmony and chord progressions. Montfort’s guitar work seamlessly blends the fluidity of Flamenco with the colors and harmonies of jazz, creating a captivating sonic tapestry. “True North” takes a more introspective turn, opening with a minor modal theme that sets a tone of mystery. The lyrical melody, with its surprising resolutions, adds a layer of intrigue. This track gives yet another angle of the Latin influences, offering a moment of joyful reflection.

“Duende” delves into the passionate realm of Spanish art and music. The ethereal intro, featuring swirling cymbals, exotic piano figures, and McCandless’ lyrical saxophone, quickly evolves into an energetic groove. The Flamenco influence is unmistakable in the rhythmic accents and drive. Montfort’s guitar solo is a tour-de-force of dynamic intensity, while Parker’s solo counters with elegance and lyrical grace. McCandless adds a final layer with his exploration of Latin jazz language, all within the cohesive framework of the Flamenco rhythmic foundation. The result is a track that’s fun and danceable, with a hint of introspective depth.

“Rendezvous” serves as a beautiful and heartfelt conclusion. This ballad gradually builds in complexity and energy, showcasing Parker’s masterful command of harmony and melody during her solo. The overall feeling is one of gentle growth, relaxation, and a touch of introspection, leaving the listener with a sense of peaceful reflection.

The album flows seamlessly as a cohesive narrative, with each track contributing to the overall exploration of memory, time, and the human experience. Each composition leaves a lasting impression, inviting listeners to return for repeat journeys of exploration and sonic pleasures.

Mariah Parker’s Windows Through Time showcases her exceptional talent as a composer, pianist, and bandleader. The album’s Latin jazz roots offer a deeply personal and emotionally resonant listening experience that is intellectually stimulating and emotionally captivating. With Windows Through Time, Mariah Parker cements her position as a leading voice in contemporary music, leaving listeners eager to explore her future sonic journeys.

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