Most know guitarist Jeff Parker as part of Chicago's unstoppable indie-jazz-experimental-rock band Tortoise. Since joining the group in 1998, he has used his instrumental prowess to help push Tortoise in the direction they're currently headed. With his second solo release The Relatives, Parker embraces his jazz roots, utilizing a smooth tone and a crystal clear vision.

The album begins with "Istanbul," a composition by drummer Chad Taylor featuring soft brush work and acoustic guitar accompaniment. Marvin Gaye's "When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You" reads well with jazzed-out guitar and smoothed-out drums. The CD moves from track to track with little disturbance, creating a very solid and coherent album.

"The Relatives" is a rare break from the mellower, more standard jazz delivery, and it dips into the world we are more familiar with in regards to Tortoise. With watered down background echoes, understated bass work, and dubbed-out effects, this track stands out as a clear highlight. "The Relatives" transitions seamlessly into "Toy Boat" and dips back into slightly more predictable ground, but it maintains one's interest as the jazzy guitar line pushes the sound down a similar line of thought that permeates the album as a whole.

The CD closing "Rang" once again pushes the sound into a more experimental and daring area of jazz, but it maintains a stable foot on the ground with impressive acoustic bass work by Chris Lopes. Parker has clearly assembled a group of ace musicians and in doing so has crafted a beautiful album that will stand the test of time and taste.

JamBase | San Francisco
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[Published on: 3/23/05]

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