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Aaron Parks: To the Big Screen, and Back to the Jazz Scene


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"Aaron Parks: Seattle's Boy Genius" is not the story anymore. The local jazz piano prodigy, who went to the University of Washington straight out of junior high, is now 25, living in New York City for the past eight years. He's moved into movies, assisting his mentor Terence Blanchard on soundtracks for Spike Lee's Katrina documentary “When the Levees Broke" (among other Lee titles) as well as the filmic adaptation of “Their Eyes Were Watching God"; and Parks has a new album out called “Invisible Cinema," his first for Blue Note Records.

Parks will perform in his trio — with drummer Eric Harland and bassist Matt Penman — Thursday at the Triple Door as part of Earshot Jazz Festival 2008. He supported Blanchard at past Earshot Jazz Festivals, but this is Parks' first with his own band.

Q: I'm a huge fan of Sprike Lee, so I have to ask: What's it like working with him?

A: He's very focused in the studio. He's in there when we're recording the themes.

Q: So he's music directing as much as he's visual directing?

A: Absolutely. ... Spike was like, “OK, that's good, but let's try and create a pause for the dialogue right here. Try and bring it up to a certain level before you get to here. ... “ It was really an amazing, worldview-altering thing to work on some of those films.

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