Jeff Parker’s singular approach to guitar has secured his place as one of the local scene’s most in-demand improvisers. Best known as one-fifth of Tortoise, Parker juggles a variety of gigs showcasing his range, from his recent run with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble (with whom he appears earlier today at the Harold Washington Library) to his long-standing Tuesday engagement at Rodan. That he’s able to keep up the busy pace is all the more impressive now that he splits his time between Chicago and L.A.
A new trio recording for Delmark, Bright Light in Winter, arrives seven years after his last dispatch as a leader. It’s an airy, intoxicating trip reuniting Parker with onetime Chicagoans Chris Lopes on bass (and flute on the lovely “The Morning of the 5th”) and drummer Chad Taylor. Elegant and understated, Parker’s lightly brushed chords, snaking leads and left-of-center voicings push this far beyond standard trio fare.
Lopes and Taylor reside on opposite sides of the country, which limits this trio’s output, let alone its ability to play out together, so Parker’s celebrating another guitarist’s album alone tonight: Live 1976, Drag City’s posthumous release of a Berkeley set by psych-traveler Sandy Bull. For the occasion, Parker’s assembled a set of original music inspired by the style-blurring Bull, who probably would’ve found a lot to like in what promises to be an eye-opening tribute.