INTERVIEW: James Farm's Aaron Parks

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Tuesday September 27, 2011

From Seattlest Daily

James Farm Project returns to Jazz Alley: A Conversation with Aaron Parks
By: Michael Nank

It was 11 or 12 years ago, shortly after I moved out to Seattle, that a good friend clued me in on one of the best jazz scenes in town. I was a bit surprised when that ‘scene’ happened to be at the Tully’s on 4th and Union. But even more surprised by what I heard coming from the cramped corner of the coffee shop.

It was definitely a group on the younger side – some of the players were just entering high school. But it was immediately clear that Aaron Parks, the 15 year old kid behind the keyboards, was destined for bigger venues.

Fast forward 12 years and Aaron Parks has become a standout in the new crop of young lions defining today’s jazz scene. After leaving Seattle at 16, Parks hooked up with Terence Blanchard – one of the most sought after jazz musicians of the day. In fact, Parks can be heard on Blanchard’s Grammy-winning “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina)’ as well as on soundtracks for Spike Lee’s movies ‘She Hate Me’ and ‘When the Levees Broke.’ And when he isn’t touring or in the studio collaborating with others Parks lays down his own tracks which you can hear on his critically acclaimed release Invisible Cinema put out by Blue Note.

Parks is back in town this week touring with some pretty heavy cats including Joshua Redman, Matt Penman and Eric Harland. Collectively they tour as the James Farm Project and will bring their melodic-driven set for a three-night run starting Tuesday night at Jazz Alley.

I had a chance to catch up with Aaron on the phone as the group’s tour was making its way to Seattle. Originally from Seattle, but now living in Brooklyn, Aaron was excited about getting back and visiting some of his old Seattle haunts. We talked about some of his early influences, new projects and what folks can expect from the James Farm Project as they take the stage at Jazz Alley.

To read the interview click here