In the 10 years since his highly acclaimed debut album, "Invisible Cinema," pianist Aaron Parks has recorded a few more CD's, but he's spent most of his playing time serving as a sideman for Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lage Lund, and many others. In these settings, he has always enhanced the project and has often risen to the level of a second star. With the major new album "Little Big," named for a favorite science fiction novel by John Crowley, Parks is back as a leader. The science fiction reference is fitting; much of this music is decidedly futuristic.
Playing various acoustic and electric keyboards, Parks ventures out a long way from tradition. Along with guitarist Greg Tuohey, a key presence on the album, Parks masterfully employs textures and tones from jazz, rock and beyond. The tunes range from the out-in-the-stratosphere tracks "Professor Strangeweather" and "The Trickster" to down-to-earth songs like "Lilac" and "Doors Open," which have melodies catchy enough to rival an Elton John tune. With Parks and Tuohey constantly soaring, bassist David "DJ" Ginyard and drummer Tommy Crane ably hold things together.