Parallel 23 Live (Jazmo Productions, 2007)
San Francisco-based Parallel 23 is comprised of just four guys: Sam Bevan on bass, Colin Douglas on drums, Matt Lucas on percussion and Jason Moen on keyboards. There’s guest artists handling turntables, sax and Latino rapping in a few spots on this live recording, but even the tracks with only the core quartet are so intricate and full of sound that you’d swear there’s more than just eight hands and the credited instruments at work.
These cats play their way through a mixture of jazz, funk and Afro-Cuban grooves that’s heavy on expert chops and light on waste. They go into some trippy, almost psychedelic passages here and there (made more surreal by audience sounds off in the distance) without letting anything gimmicky intrude or allowing the consistently clean live mix to get sloppy.
From the freewheeling opener "Cloud Over Jobu" to the Jamaican inflections of the concluding "Mali Dub," Parallel 23 keep it tight, jolt the tunes with occasional surprise twists and treat the crowd (this was recorded at the Elbo Room in the band’s hometown) to an evening of deeply felt fusion that makes you wish you’d been there. Recommended.
Buy Parallel 23 Live.