There's magic in the air when Joe Parillo sits down at the piano. The award-winning musician, a former winner of the Best Jazz Artist title in The Phoenix arts weekly, is an evocative instrumentalist and visionary straddling genres and creating an intoxicating hybrid of melodic styles.
On Segments, his dazzling new trio album with guest vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, Parillo proves that while he's a jazz player, he also enjoys the fertile gray areas between instrumental, jazz, and classical constructs. People get pretty confused," Parillo admits, I do so many different things that what I call myself really depends on what I'm doing at the time."
Which is, indeed, a lot. Parillo, the current director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of Rhode Island, has a full complement of achievements under his belt, including trio, duo, and solo works. He is a Steinway Artist and holds a master's degree in composition from the New England Conservatory. He has written and arranged music for theater and film, has been commissioned to write three jazz ballets, and has arranged and recorded over 25 full-length children's productions. He has recorded a handful of CDs. These include Almost Carefree, Block Island Summer, Morning in the Garden, and Sandbox, all of which are available through Neoga, his own label. And, in perhaps his crowning achievement thus far, Parillo earned a Grammy nomination for his tune One Day In January" from Sandbox.
His immense creative spirit abounds on Segments. With his trio--Bryan Rizzuto on bass, Eric Platz on drums, and special guest Hoggard--Parillo creates music that washes over his listeners with lush waves of melody. His all original compositions are more beautiful than ever, from the opener Clouds," with Hoggard on vibes to the super-romantic, blues-tinged Where Are You Now" and the hopeful One Day In January," which has an irresistible pop hook coming from Hoggard's vibes. Finally, the cinematic closer Aura" may be Parillo's most complete composition to date, complete with strings, woodwinds and a solo French horn all contributing to the piece. Throughout this CD, recorded and engineered by George Dussault of Galilee Productions, Parillo demonstrates that his writing has grown more textured and intricate without losing the spark of spontaneity.
When people hear that tune and what it achieves," he says, I think they'll be surprised." Then again, it will certainly keep the lines of his artistic identity blurred, something Parillo is accustomed to. When people ask me what kind of a musician I am, I tell them that I'm eclectic."