Australian ex-pat saxophonist Lisa Parrott has recorded with many a prominent ensemble (e.g., the Diva Jazz Orchestra) and has co-led a handful of superb sessions, most notably with her sister, bassist Nicki Parrott. However, the engaging Round Tripper marks her debut as sole session leader.
Parrott exhibits soulful eloquence and vibrant spontaneity on the disc’s six covers and two original tunes. Guitarist Carl Dewhurst lays down simmering, deep-blue chords that complement and enhance Parrott’s muscular baritone sax on his composition “I Don’t Know What.” Parrott’s suave yet scintillating improvisation brims with emotion and evolves over the band’s funky and percolating vamps. Idiosyncratic drummer Matt Wilson’s resonant thuds and thrums close the tune on an intriguing note.
Wilson lets loose with a thrilling polyrhythmic flurry on Ornette Coleman’s “Round Trip.” Parrott plays the bari sax with great fluidity here. She strikes a balance between reserve and abandon, as her phrasing maintains the angularity of Coleman’s composition. Bassist Chris Lightcap then showcases his virtuosity with a lithe and acrobatic solo.
Lightcap also shines with a lyrical and intricate extemporization on bassist Cameron Undy’s Latin-accented “Dancing Laughing.” Parrott’s staccato cluster of notes creates a gripping ambience as her serpentine, agile alto weaves shimmering lines in and around the band’s rumbling beats. The saxophonist finds her perfect foil in trumpeter and Diva bandmate Nadje Noordhuis. On the traditional “Waltzing Matilda,” Noordhuis’ clear, burnished tone articulately converses with Parrott’s warm, languid alto.
Although it’s not terribly innovative, this solidly mainstream session is quite charming. It also provides an opportunity to enjoy Parrott’s superlative musicianship in a setting more intimate than her usual orchestral work. —Hrayr Attarian