Pianist and composer Horace Parlan over his 50 year career has recorded 30 albums as a leader and has been a sideman with many jazz greats, overcoming physical disability and thrived as a pianist despite it. His right hand was partially disabled by polio in his childhood, but Parlan made frenetic, highly rhythmic right hand phrases part of his characteristic style, contrasting them with striking left-hand chords. He inventively infused blues and R&B influences into his style, playing in a stark, sometimes somber fashion.
Much of pianist Horace Parlan’s distinguished jazz life has been marked by an intriguing series of ebbs and flows. At times his artistry has received the attention and praise it deserves, while at others it has been curiously overlooked and neglected. All the more interesting is that amid these sometimes unnerving shifts, Parlan has remained a model of musical consistency.
Parlan, with his soulful, rhythmically inventive style, and equally inspired compositional voice, is a unique stylist, exuberant and inventive, and creates a climate different from anything else in jazz. Parlan has always cited Ahmad Jamal and Bud Powell as prime influences.
He left America for Copenhagen in 1973, and gained international recognition for some stunning albums on Steeplechase, including a pair of superb duet sessions with Archie Shepp. He also recorded with Dexter Gordon, Red Mitchell, and in the ’80s Frank Foster and Michal Urbaniak.
Horace Parlan passed away in his sleep on Feb. 23, 2017. In Denmark he will be fondly remembered as a sweet and embracing person that always had something to say musically.
“Horace Parlan is a unique stylist. His soulfulness, his exuberance and inventiveness, create a climate different from anything else in jazz.”