In 2003, Chicago jazz guitarist Jeff Parker released his first trio album Like-Coping. Aside from the track “Holiday for a Despot”, it was some rather plain, straight-ahead Montgomery bop that didn’t mirror any of the adventurous work he had taken on as a hired hand. Then in 2005 Parker released Relatives, a short but grand slice of guitar looming that seemed to say “to hell with bop.” Parker was letting his day job work with Tortoise seep into his craft and it was something to behold. Now after a lengthy wait, Jeff Parker has reconvened the trio with bassist Chris Lopes and drummer Chad Taylor for Bright Light in Winter. The result? Something that sits between Like-Coping and Relatives but leans closer to the former. All three members throw songs into the pot and it is Parker’s jabbing “Freakadelic” that makes the strongest impression, though the melancholy “Change” gives it a run for its money. The oddly timed guitar and bass vamp that drives Taylor’s “Mainz” sort of make you wish the whole album played with this much elasticity at the very least. A pretty good album, but it’s no Relatives.
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