Written as the score of a never-produced musical, Jump! must be the best score in the history of Broadway rejects.
A gifted melodist and arranger, Parks digs deep into his Southern roots and pulls out this Brer Rabbit of a bouncy, melancholy masterpiece.
Not for those who like their pop predictable, ironic or cynical, I predict that Jump! will be Van Dyke Parks greatest legacy, the truest reflection of his extraordinary grasp of the heart of American music.
Arranger-to-the-stars Van Dyke Parks tends to divide listeners down the middle, with some loving his self-consciously literate, allusive pop compositions, and others failing to appreciate his idiosyncractic genius.
I have been intrigued by Parks ever since hearing his legendary late 60's pop masterpiece, Song Cycle.
With exceptions of Jump! and Song Cycle, Parks' solo work has been uneven, with flashes of brilliance appearing in the midst of heartfelt but rather unoriginal covers of calypso hits.
I generally applaud his hard to describe blend of clever wordplay, pop/rock tunesmithing, and classical Americana. Parks' own musical idol is Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the early 19th century American composer championed by Liszt and Chopin, who took the world's concert halls by storm with a blend of European classical technique, minstrelsy and Creole dance forms---a full century before Gerswhin and Ellington were hailed for accomplishing similar fusions.
If Gottschalk was an underappreciated genius, as many believe, Parks is his worthy, 20th century, pop-savvy heir.
In addition to Jump! and Song Cycle, I can recommend the Parks compiliation Idiosyncratic Path, and his recent live album, Moonlighting.
Also check out his stunning orchestral interludes on Sam Phillips gorgeous art-rock meets-the-Byrds-and-Beatles album, Wow (by Craiglink).
02.Opportunity for two
04.I ain't goin' home
05.Many a mile to go
07.An invitation to sin
09.After the ball
Van Dyke Parks :
*Van Dyke Parks (vocals, piano)
*Kathy Dalton, Danny Hutton (vocals)
*Fred Tackett (guitar, banjo, mandolin)
*Gayle Levant (harp)
*Tommy Morgan, Stanley Behrens (harmonica)
*Emil Richards (vibraphone, marimba, bells, timpani)
*Jim Hughart (bass)
*Jim Keltner (drums)
*Robert Greenidge (steel drum)
*Kenny Watson (cymbalom)
*Jennifer Warnes (background vocals).
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