Now here's something you don't run across every day: a guy who doesn't play on his own albums, instead writing, arranging, and producing everything. Pianist-composer Drew Paralic began his keyboard studies 25 years ago but realized, as things progressed, that he still had come to his chops too late to realize an ambition of mounting to the plateau of heroes Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk performance-wise. Most people, upon such an interestingly honest self-revelation, would just throw their hands up in the air and walk away muttering, but there was no way Paralic was going to give up on music, so he contented himself to write and hand-pick players to flesh out his work.
That he did so wisely is seen in every cut of his fourth independent release, Wintertime Tunes, and there are indeed more than a few Evans/Monk touches and vocabularistic turns. The CD's actually a long-form EP (six songs clocking in at about 28 minutes) of highly considered works, every part in each selection carefully thought out in a cycle stepping back to the 40s and 50s when gloriously feverish Dixie swing had given way to chambery aspirations and the new high art that nonetheless managed to speak clearly to the people.
Steps captures some Mingus, who was the next step in these matters, the guy even Bill and Theo could only marvel at, but more than once the distinctly ground-level intellectualism of Paul Desmond peeks out from around corners as well. One of America's greatest indiosyncratists, Anthony Braxton, commented that Desmond played like a chess master, always thinking ten moves ahead, and that factor makes itself clearly known here as well. Mike McGinnis (sax, clarinet) especially in How Bill's Heart Sings reminds the listener of the legendary Paul but then also of an element distinctly different, which is Paralic's own voice, and the listener is minded that, just as with the forebears dear to the gent, nothing can be taken for granted. What at first seems might be a standard take or a familiar passage very quickly turns itself into something else, and that's precisely what everything about jazz intended. You can't just listen, you're forced to interact, and thank God for that, hm?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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