Pianist Aaron Parks is a forward-thinking jazz musician who came to the public's attention during his time with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Born in Seattle, Washington, Parks began playing piano at a young age and by the time he was 14, had enrolled in an early entrance degree program at the University of Washington.
Originally, Parks pursued both science and music degrees; however, his prodigious talent won out, and by age 16, he had transferred to the Manhattan School of Music. While there, he studied with pianist Kenny Barron and received several competitive accolades, including being named the 2001 Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association. At age 18, he joined Blanchard's ensemble and subsequently recorded four albums with the veteran trumpeter, including “Bounce” (2003), “Flow” (2005), the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film “Inside Man” (2006), and Blanchard's Grammy-winning “A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)” (2007).
Besides playing with Blanchard, Parks has performed with artists including trumpeter Christian Scott, drummer Kendrick Scott, vocalist Gretchen Parlato and others. Parks has released several albums under his own name, including his Blue Note debut, “Invisible Cinema” (2008). Parks, who has also recorded with Christian Scott, Kendrick Scott, Ambrose Akinmusire and Kurt Rosenwinkel, was an integral part of the James Farm Quartet with Joshua Redman, Matt Penman and Eric Harland. Nonesuch released its self-titled album in 2011. The pianist subsequently signed to ECM and released the solo piano offering “Arborescence” (2013).
He also made sideman appearances on Will Vinson's “Live at Smalls” and Yeahwon Shin's “Lua Ya” and “Live in Japan” with his own trio of Thomas Morgan and RJ Miller. It was recorded on the pianist's phone during a show and released for free on his Bandcamp page. “Find the Way” (2017), his sophomore album for ECM, featured bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart in the rhythm section. It was inspired in part by the music of Alice Coltrane and Shirley Horn (for whom Hart played); both of whom prioritized space and subtlety in composition and improvisation.