11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“My music is not as collaborative as it’s been in the past,” Jeff Parker tells Apple Music. “I’m not inviting other people to write with me. I’m more interested in how people's instrumental voices can fit into the ideas I’m working on.” As his career has evolved, the jazz guitarist and former member of post-rock band Tortoise has become more comfortable writing compositions as a solitary exercise. While 2016's The New Breed featured a host of contributors, Suite for Max Brown finds the Los Angeles-based player eager to move away from the delirious funk-jazz of earlier works and towards something more unified and focused on repetition and droning harmonies. “I used to ask my collaborators to bring as much of the songwriting to the compositions as I do. Now, I’m just trying to prove to myself that I can do it on my own.”

Parker handles most of the instruments on Max Brown, but familiar faces pop up throughout. The opening track, “Build a Nest”, features vocals from Parker’s daughter, Ruby, and “Gnarciss” includes performances from Makaya McCraven on the drums, Rob Mazurek on trumpet and Josh Johnson on alto saxophone. Other frequenters of Parker’s orbit, like drummer Jamire Williams, appear throughout. But Max Brown is Parker’s record first and foremost, and the LP finds him less willing to give in to jazz’s typical demands of dynamic improvisation and community-oriented song-building. Here, Parker asserts himself as an ecstatic solo voice, where on earlier albums the soft-spoken musician may have been more willing to give way to his fellow bandmates. Suite for Max Brown is an ambitious sonic experiment that succeeds in its moves both big and small. “I like when music is able to enhance the environment of everyday life,” Parker says. “I would like people to be able to find themselves within the music.”

Above all, Suite for Max Brown pays homage to the most important figures in Parker’s life. The New Breed, which was finished shortly after Parker’s father passed away, took its title from a store his father owned; Max Brown is derived from his mother’s nickname, and Parker felt an urgent desire to honour her while she was still able to hear it. “My mother has always been really supportive and super proud of the work I’ve done,” he says. “I wanted to dedicate an album to her while she’s still alive to see the results. She loves it, which means so much.” It’s an ode to his mother’s ambition, and a record that stands in awe of her achievements, even though they’re quite different from Jeff’s. “She had a stable job and collected a 401(k). My career as a musician is 180 degrees the opposite of that, but I’m still inspired by her work ethic.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“My music is not as collaborative as it’s been in the past,” Jeff Parker tells Apple Music. “I’m not inviting other people to write with me. I’m more interested in how people's instrumental voices can fit into the ideas I’m working on.” As his career has evolved, the jazz guitarist and former member of post-rock band Tortoise has become more comfortable writing compositions as a solitary exercise. While 2016's The New Breed featured a host of contributors, Suite for Max Brown finds the Los Angeles-based player eager to move away from the delirious funk-jazz of earlier works and towards something more unified and focused on repetition and droning harmonies. “I used to ask my collaborators to bring as much of the songwriting to the compositions as I do. Now, I’m just trying to prove to myself that I can do it on my own.”

Parker handles most of the instruments on Max Brown, but familiar faces pop up throughout. The opening track, “Build a Nest”, features vocals from Parker’s daughter, Ruby, and “Gnarciss” includes performances from Makaya McCraven on the drums, Rob Mazurek on trumpet and Josh Johnson on alto saxophone. Other frequenters of Parker’s orbit, like drummer Jamire Williams, appear throughout. But Max Brown is Parker’s record first and foremost, and the LP finds him less willing to give in to jazz’s typical demands of dynamic improvisation and community-oriented song-building. Here, Parker asserts himself as an ecstatic solo voice, where on earlier albums the soft-spoken musician may have been more willing to give way to his fellow bandmates. Suite for Max Brown is an ambitious sonic experiment that succeeds in its moves both big and small. “I like when music is able to enhance the environment of everyday life,” Parker says. “I would like people to be able to find themselves within the music.”

Above all, Suite for Max Brown pays homage to the most important figures in Parker’s life. The New Breed, which was finished shortly after Parker’s father passed away, took its title from a store his father owned; Max Brown is derived from his mother’s nickname, and Parker felt an urgent desire to honour her while she was still able to hear it. “My mother has always been really supportive and super proud of the work I’ve done,” he says. “I wanted to dedicate an album to her while she’s still alive to see the results. She loves it, which means so much.” It’s an ode to his mother’s ambition, and a record that stands in awe of her achievements, even though they’re quite different from Jeff’s. “She had a stable job and collected a 401(k). My career as a musician is 180 degrees the opposite of that, but I’m still inspired by her work ethic.”

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