Richard X Bennett, Matt Parker: Parker Plays X (BYNK/digital outlets)

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Joy Comes in the Morning
Richard X Bennett, Matt Parker: Parker Plays X (BYNK/digital outlets)

When Brooklyn-based composer and keyboard player Richard X Bennett contacted Elsewhere almost a decade ago we were immediately curious, his New York City Swara album was inspired by his immersion in the classical music traditions in India when he studied in Mumbai.

That he'd also played in a Greek band, a Japanese club and in a New Orleans band made him of great interest.

We had him answer a jazz questionnaire and have written about subsequent albums. Crikey, we even did a collage about him.

Out of the blue his new one arrives, a vigorous collection with tough tenor and soprano saxophonist Matt Parker, and in only a few bars of the opener Style V Substance or the ballad Semi Vintage later you know this is from New York.

With an equally smart rhythm section (bassist Adam Armstrong, drummer Julian Edmond), Parker Plays X is a strong and diverse collection which includes the achingly beseeching ballad Countertransference which becomes a conversation between piano and tumultuous sax, the strident energy of the urban miniature Bus 61, the abrasive Nawlins-goes-feral on Barbaric Yawp, the 90 second Beat jazz fury of No Cigarettes No Coffee No Weed No Sleep . . .

Prompted by lockdown isolation and the loneliness, irritation and white-knuckle anger which that brought on, Parker Plays X is like a series of aural postcards from those caught up in their emotions and channeling them through music.

So there is beauty and bristling anger, swinging joy (Belly First with a terrific bass part) and quiet contemplation which moves from a blue ballad into a more edgy then resigned mood (Two Years Later).

And then it's all over so . . . there's the graceful simplicity of Joy Comes in the Morning.

Once again Richard X Bennett has written material which challenges and provokes, but isn't without wit and humour. He's a story-teller.

In that regard, can we recommend the CD rather than just the download. The liner notes are informative, droll and sometimes very funny.

Here's a man who sought refuge in the company of churchgoers during lockdown but once the bars opened found his solace there.

Belly First is about a guy frequenting the liquor shop opposite his Brooklyn apartment.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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