Review by Denis Poole: Smooth Vibes (The United Kingdoms #1 Jazz site).
Readers of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden will know it’s the place to go for a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. In order to bring you more of the news more of the time this latest Secret Garden Snippet delivers another current sound bite from the adult contemporary scene. When, earlier this year, I visited Boise, Idaho for the first time I was immediately surprised and delighted by its vibrant downtown and sophisticated atmosphere. There and then I marked it down as a city I should return to someday and now I have found another reason for doing so. "Two Reasons, the debut CD from smooth jazz trumpeter Jason Parra is one of the freshest new releases you will hear this year".
A talented studio musician and songwriter, Jason has also found time to tour with Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Arturo Sandoval, Lionel Hampton, The James Brown Band and Gene Harris. In addition his profile has been enhanced by appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and NBC’s Today Show.Two Reasons contains eleven, all original compositions and from the first note of the first and title track it is clear that this is a piece of top notch smooth jazz. The second cut, the tight and funky ‘Aguamala’ with Parra’s classy muted trumpet to the fore, is just as good, and ‘Wish You Were Here’ has the full brassy sound that the band generates. As well as contributing to Parra’s distinctive sound this has the added advantage of making their live performances just as vibrant as their studio recordings. In fact the composition of the X Factor is all about getting that full, ‘Tower of Power’, thing going with Kent Parsons on both sax and flute and outstanding keyboards from accomplished songwriter, arranger and producer Wayne Levy. This same signature sound is again in evidence on both ‘Twisted’, where they whip up a real frenzy and on ‘I Got to Be Myself’, a tune with a horn driven swing and the thread of a smooth melody running right through it. However, with ‘Mellow Traumatic’ Jason switches effortlessly to flugel horn and proves that he is quite capable of turning it down and in so doing producing a haunting melody that makes this track a little gem.Jason Parra has been picking up some rave reviews for recent live performances.
Check him out if you can, and be on the look out for Two Reasons---which is a comprehensive showcase for his considerable talents.
Denis Poole from Smooth Vibes "Secret Garden Column"
Biography Jason Parra picked up the trumpet at the age of three; it was his father Julian’s. It was twelve years later that he would start playing the instrument in High School. It was a bit odd that Jason chose football, wrestling and track over the trumpet given that his mother and father met each other while playing in the Boise High School Band (trumpet and trombone) in Jason’s hometown of Boise, Idaho. He was a natural on the horn and after only two years of playing was the principal player in all state, all- northwest and accepted into the prestigious McDonalds All American Band and Jazz Band. As a senior he received a new trumpet for winning the solo competition at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Hampton invited Parra to perform with him and his New York City Big Band during the Festivals closing performance. Jason didn’t disappoint, and after a scorching improv solo he brought the crowd to its feet for a five minute standing ovation. Afterwards Hampton called the performance "outstanding, he’s a remarkable player".
Jason went on to attend two Universities and eventually finished his studies under Dick Shear (Stan Kenton Orchestra) and noted arranger Dave Barduhn. Parra then formed and started playing with several groups from jazz quartets to funk and rock bands. His first big break was to join Actor Bruce Willis’s blues band the L.A. Accelerators. He later moved to New York City where several opportunities as a writer, studio session player and touring performer presented themselves.
During his career Jason has performed and toured with over a dozen Grammy Award Winning Artists. A short list includes the late Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Arturo Sandoval, Bill Watrous, Dave Weckl, Chuck Mangione, Red Rodney, Gene Harris, Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Carl Fontana, Ernie Watts, The James Brown Band and numerous others. After countless suggestions and requests of fellow artists and industry professionals, Jason released his debut solo album Two Reasons". The CD has eleven original compositions written by Parra (2 tracks by Parra/Levy). The music of Two Reasons is a very unique blend of Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, Funk and the modern "cool/smooth" sound.
This style was a bit of a risk, as it had the potential to be very successful or to offend jazz lovers the world over. Fortunately for Jason it was the former scenario that occurred and Two Reasons was surprisingly successful. As an independent release the album quickly dominated the independent and internet radio markets. But with the first single release of the song Aguamala things really took off. The CD went for R&R ads and Aguamala sailed into the top of the billboard radio charts for jazz. CD Sales and radio play continue to be strong and Jason’s website has received over a half million visits to date. The critics started taking notice and several of the top Jazz writers from around the world wrote reviews and features--- not a single article had anything but rave reviews. This obviously set’s the stage for a follow up album; as numerous top record labels and industry heavies have shown a great deal of interest in Parra’s music and solo artist career. With the obvious attention and anticipation of a second release that is exactly what Parra will deliver.
"Jason is on the brink of making it big in the modern jazz scene today. He has an undeniable talent on the trumpet and is a prolific songwriter. He also has that intangible mystique of stage presence that is so hard to find. Standing at an imposing 6"3 with dangerous good looks he is the epitome of the jazz cool". ---SmoothJazz.com