The Simple Life

Parker’s first album in three years is a flowing, joyous testament to an artistic percussionist able to delve into a host of exotic rhythms, from Middle Eastern to Afro-Cuban and stunning vocal body percussion, with help from guest collaborators, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, saxophonists Sam Newsome and Steve Wilson, numerous percussionists, and the primal vocals of Elizabeth Kontonmanou.

Currently spending most of his time in France, Parker uses this record to bring his “vocal-body-rhythms” style to the forefront, and the effect is compelling and unique as he uses his chest for the bass drum and his voice to solo like a timbale or conga. The album (which consists of duos and trios on each song) opens with a seducing version of Ellington’s “Caravan” led by Kontonmanou singing the melody with her powerful voice—cutting to the song’s primitive roots. In the middle of the album comes a 10-minute-plus live version of the Parker original “Belief,” that highlights his uncanny abilities with rhythm and time.

By mixing and blending different cultural languages, Parker makes a bid for a new, more world-compassing sound than jazz, highlighted here by the influence of his exciting work within the dance world.

Concerning his sojourn in France, he says: "In America, you have to be rich or poor, black or white. For me, it’s not about assimilation. I’m interested in expansion—how we can grow outwards and increase our awareness of the world."