I kept on seeing Aaron Parks’ name popping up as I surfed the internet on current Jazz musicians and everything says pretty much the same – that this man from Seattle is one of the leading lights in a new generation of Jazz pianists and composers. So, when the opportunity arose to see and hear the Aaron Parks Trio with the man himself on piano, Ben Street on acoustic bass and Billy Hart on drums at The Queens Hall, it was time to see if all the plaudits on the internet were correct.
Aaron came on stage and immediately came across to me as a very gentle man who actually seemed a little shy with an audience when he spoke but, as soon as he sat down to the piano and played, that shyness disappeared and he just entered a world of beautiful music and sound. Music is so obviously the space that Aaron is most comfortable in and he effortlessly just moved through different styles and arrangements as the evening went on.
This was his first trip to Edinburgh and the opening composition was “Adrift”. More original works followed, some in a “work in progress stage” and some work by other composers including “Conception” by George Shearing and “Marie Antoinette” by Wayne Shorter. There were some personal dedications in music too from Aaron. One to some friends who are now living in Edinburgh and opening a restaurant, and another to one of his musical heroes – Alice Coltrane.
Keeping perfect time with Aaron were Ben Street on bass and Billy Hart on drums. Ben Street is an amazing musician who got when needed such gentle sounds from his acoustic bass. Billy Hart on drums to me was just amazing...possibly the best Jazz drummer that I have seen play. Billy’s drumming took us from loud when required to amazingly soft and gentle (and everything else in between as required) and the different methods that he used to get those sounds was fascinating to watch and hear. His accompaniment on the opening piece “Adrift” was just amazing to listen to. It was nice to see and hear how an iconic drummer like Billy Hart with decades of playing experience merged so well musically with the far younger Aaron Parks to just create wonderful sounds.
Aaron Parks I would love to hear as a solo artist, but when he goes on stage with talent like Ben and Billy, something blends to make a night of special music.
I keep on saying this I know when I review music from the Queen’s Hall, but on performances like this where so much of the music is just beautifully gentle and soothing you realise just what a special acoustic place it is – particularly with musicians like these three who understand that soft and quiet can be far more effective than harsh and loud.
If you want to find more out about Aaron Parks, visit his website at
Review by Tom King