On Sunday remarkable guitarist Shane Parish, based in Asheville, North Carolina, returns to Chicago to headline Elastic. I spent a few minutes debating whether he belonged in the jazz post that I publish every Friday afternoon, but I have a sufficiently broad definition of the term for Parish’s exploratory sensibility to fit under its umbrella—though he draws just as heavily from progressive rock and American folk as it does from improvised music. When Parish made his previous visit to Chicago in December, he appeared in support of a solo acoustic album called Undertaker Please Drive Slow (Tzadik), a powerful survey of American folk themes that took cues from John Fahey’s American Primitive school while staking out its own turf.
Parish plays solo this weekend, though he’s best known as half of the duo Ahleuchatistas with drummer Ryan Oslance. His two latest recordings are also duets with drummers. Live at the Mothlight is by Few More Days, his high-powered improvisational duo with fellow Asheville resident Michael Libramento. They don’t sound too different from Ahleuchatistas’ mind-warping music, though instead of playing rigorously mapped-out compositions they conjure up fiery interactions on the fly—Parish summons the free-jazz spirit of Sonny Sharrock, with occasional forays into the rural traditions that once thrived around his hometown.
The other recent title is Labrys, an acoustic album made with former Chicago drummer Frank Rosaly. It’s gentler but no less probing, as Rosaly teases kaleidoscopic colors and visceral textures from his kit while Parish bridges the gap between Appalachian music and free improv. Parish sounds more and more assured about disregarding the boundaries of the traditions in which he traffics, and that’s got me looking forward increasingly eagerly to what he’ll do next.
Cate Le Bon, Rock Pool (Drag City)
Jackson Harrison Trio, Sintering (Hatology)
Arditti Quartet, Conlon Nancarrow: Quartets and Studies (Wergo)
John & Alice Coltrane, Cosmic Music (Superior Viaduct/Impulse)
Traffic, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Island)