Aaron Parks is a native of the Pacific Northwest — that region of North America of wide expanse and inspiring, stunning geography. I cannot imagine being from the area and not having its impressions deep in your soul, artistically and personally. Parks is from Seattle. The city has a legacy of artistic expression unique to its creative scene.
Parks plays like he has something to say. There is fanfare and then there is subtlety and humility. Maybe it is something about those highest peaks and the ocean’s immense audacity as it is stopped only by the land it crashes against. That land, it is rich in the cultures of its earlier inhabitants, the Pacific Northwest indigenous, and the land’s ever-present spirit.
Parks studied with one of jazz’s masters, Kenny Barron. He graduated to playing with Terence Blanchard, a relationship that saw involvement in recordings of Blanchard’s albums, particularly A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), and on some of Spike Lee’s film soundtracks, including When the Levees Broke. That spirit of the land and in Parks’ playing is summed up a little unexpectedly, but also truly beautifully, in some of his words: “Always beginning. Often perplexed. Drawn to beauty and to the absurd.”