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Music Review: Peter Parcek 3 – The Mathematics Of Love

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Surely there's enough of it now to justify a genre; call it neo-blues, if you will, as practiced by New England-based guitar wizard Peter Parcek.

Parcek was born in the States, but spent formative years in England during the British Blues explosion. Influenced by the likes of Clapton (in his guitar god days), Jeff Beck, and Peter Green, he's definitely no purist but his deep love for the blues informs every note he plays.

Parcek's usual trio, including bassist Marc Hickox and drummer Steve Scully, is augmented on The Mathematics Of Love by organist extraordinaire Al Kooper, along with bits of mandolin and violin courtesy of Jimmy Ryan and Dan Kellar. Also on hand is upright bassist Marty Ballou, a stalwart of the New England scene.

But this one's unquestionably Parcek's show, not because he insists on outshining his supporting cast, but because he's such an explosive player it's as though a single song can't possibly contain all his musical ideas. There’s really not much room for anything but Parcek’s stunning fretwork, yet he never wears out his welcome. He plays with breathtaking fluidity and dazzling speed, notes spiraling out into the stratosphere with edgy abandon. But Parcek keeps things resolutely musical, and amid all the notes he never fails to find each tune’s emotional core.

Covers include Peter Green's "Showbiz Blues," a brooding boogie that sets the stage for what's to come; ferociously slashing guitar and generally distorted vocals (Parcek isn't particularly strong in that department). "Lord, Help The Poor And Needy," originally by Jessie Mae Hemphill, is hypnotic in its dark intensity, while Lucinda Williams' "Get Right With God" is given a raucous and rollicking treatment, as is Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Kokomo Me Baby."

Parcek contributes a handful, including the relatively straightforward title track, a moody rumination with Parcek on acoustic slide guitar, and the space-a-billy romp of "Rollin' With Zah." He shows some serious blues chops on "New Year's Eve, a tune he co-wrote with David Herwaldt that's a holdover from his indie debut. Remixed for this disc, it features the dueling guitars of Parcek and guest Ronnie Earl, no slouch on the six-string himself.

But it's Harlan Howard's "Busted," a tune made famous by Ray Charles, that stands as the disc's showcase instrumental. Parcek is simply brilliant on this one, delivering barrage after barrage of blistering runs before taking the song out in truly spacey fashion with an effects extravaganza that recalls Hendrix at his … well, his spaciest.  Truly impressive stuff!

It’s not at typical blues outing by any means, but Parcek’s music remains rooted in the blues, while adding shades and textures that expand rather than deconstruct that firmest of foundations. Both fascinating and consistently engaging, this one’s highly recommended!

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