& The New Breed
The musical résumé of Jeff Parker is almost overwhelming. Aside from his decades in Tortoise, the Chicago post-rock titans who sapped the walls between the city’s storied indie rock and experimental jazz scenes, Parker has added his sterling guitar tone and spiky cursive lines to hundreds of records, including key works from Smog, the Brian Blade Fellowship, and Joshua Redman. He was also a crucial player on In the Moment and Universal Beings, two lauded records by drummer Makaya McCraven. His playing is incisive yet responsive, conforming to any musical context while seeding it with melodies and marvels.
While Parker has been a judicious bandleader, that has begun to change in recent years, since he moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. This new scenery apparently spurred a creative boom, from the solo guitar exploration Slight Freedom to the sample-based grooves and instrumental anthems of The New Breed. In 2016, on the quartet’s self-titled debut for International Anthem, Parker guides Josh Johnson, Paul Bryan, and Jamire Williams through fluorescent curves, and then falls back to furtively trail their crisp rhythms, leading from behind.
In 2020, The New Breed returned with Suite for Max Brown. With the force of both International Anthem and Nonesuch behind them and Makaya McCraven in their midst, the band made its No. 1 debut on Billboard’s Current Contemporary Jazz Chart and incited Pitchfork to proclaim, in a Best New Music review, “[Parker] has created an effortlessly detailed album, full of tradition and experimentation that spans generations. It lives at the vanguard of new jazz music.”