Seattle’s Jason Parker has been making some tasty jazz quartet music for several albums now, but his latest recording is both a step forward in conceptualism and a loving look back at an underappreciated musical icon.
Five Leaves Left: A Tribute to Nick Drake takes an appropriately minimalist approach to reinterpreting the late English songwriter, whose cult status ought to ensure a reaction from fans to these versions of songs such as “Time Has Told Me,” “Fruit Tree”, and more. Vocalist Michele Khazak, featured on a number of songs, is just restrained enough to be the perfect complement to Parker’s trumpet tones, most notably on “Day Is Done,” where her sultry, smoky vibe takes over the tune. Instrumentally there are several longer exploratory cuts, but the deviations from the basic structure of the originals are not so off-the-chart that they distract from the core melodies of each piece.
The best tribute albums manage to retain the appeal of the source material while offering up new revelations, and overall, this one scores on both counts. With Parker’s quartet a popular private party and wedding booking in the Seattle area, I’m just imagining a really hip bride and groom requesting a Nick Drake song for their first dance…
Parker is offering the album in digital form as a name-your-price download on his Bandcamp page here
Here’s a preview of “Day Is Done”:
And here’s the Jason Parker Quartet in action: