Teri Parker may be a pianist, but it is clear from the music of In the Past that she is first and foremost a composer with a distinctive voice. Much of her prodigious talent in this regard comes from her penchant for scores that are almost mosaic-like in their selective, ever-changing use of instrumental sounds, which, in turn, gives her a consummate mastery of orchestral writing. This is used to extraordinary effect on In the Past, albeit choosing to work with just an alto saxophone as the lead melodic voice supported by contrabass and drums. As a result even the simplest of melodies as on the rather beautifully dappled melody of “Delft” and the balletic one that unfolds in “Saturn”, which is reminiscent of Erik Satie’s “Trois Gymnopédie” are imbued with a unique pastoralism melded in with a certain stylish grandeur.
While Teri Parker may derive her reputation from her compositional abilities, her pianism is by no means insignificant and the times when she steps out of the harmonic shadows and into the limelight as a soloist are ample proof of her excellence. Each solo is distinctive and displays a staggering wealth of invention and thematic contrast. Her use of dynamics is highly expressive and every piano part is marvelously sculpted and integrated with the textures of Allison Au’s alto saxophone. Moreover Miss Parker’s lightly written role beautifully balances the weight of the Mark Godfrey’s contrabass as well a Mack Longpre’s drums, both of whom also exercise supreme control over the written material.
The writing on this album does leave vast room for individual expression and this takes the form of some rather dazzling improvisations. The music has been written – idiomatically, it might be added – with the saxophone of Allison Au in mind. As a result of this it may seem that she enjoys the lion’s share of the solo time, which is probably just as well as Miss Au’s velvet textured tones are a most apt vehicle for the songs to come to fruition. Every outing for the saxophonist is an utterly winning account, full of seductive sparkle. Miss Au sounds particularly joyous and spontaneous on “Taurus Blues” – especially after the tricky time-change two choruses into the piece. It is her that both the bassist and drummer also shine right through their brilliantly coordinated and light-footed exchanges.
Miss Parker is never far behind on her subtle forays into the thick of solo action. But she may be easy to miss sometimes. Her solos are not vehicles for hair-raising virtuosity, but every phrase she plays is a work of eloquence, placing its emphasis on intimate dialogue between herself and the rest of the quartet. Everywhere she shows her wonderful tonal control and rhythmic flexibility, which is how her soli come to reveal itself as a profoundly beautiful and irresistible reading of music. And that goes for each and every piece on this recording.
Track list – 1: Majnoun; 2: Summer City; 3: On the Farm; 4: Oy, Regy! 5: Alexandria; 6: Taurus Blues; 7: Delft; 8: In the Future; 9: Strange Dreams; 10: Chromo; 11: Ghost of Time; 12: Saturn
Personnel – Teri Parker: piano, Fender Rhodes, Mophox4 and compositions; Allison Au: alto saxophone; Mark Godfrey: contrabass, electric bass and Mophox4; Mack Longpre: drums
Released – 2017
Label – Independent
Runtime – 55:07