In Chicago jazz circles, guitarist Jeff Parker is known for playing a lot of avant-garde jazz--specifically, avant-garde jazz of the AACM variety. One of the groups that he has played with is the Chicago Underground Quartet, whose work has been influenced by AACM explorers like Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams and Anthony Braxton. But Parker isn't strictly an avant-garde player, and Like-Coping is actually more inside than outside. Like-Coping, the guitarist's first album as a leader, isn't as far to the left as some might expect--most of the CD is devoted to inside post-bop playing. Forming a trio with drummer Chad Taylor (a member of the Chicago Underground Quartet) and bassist Chris Lopes, Parker tends to be intellectual but in an inside, relatively melodic way. Nonetheless, Like-Coping does have its outside moments. "Omega Sci-Fi" and "Holiday for a Despot" are right out of the AACM school of avant-garde playing--and that means the tunes favor space over density and don't go out of their way to be harsh or abrasive. Some free jazz can be downright blistering--Charles Gayle, Albert Ayler and post-1965 John Coltrane are examples of how ferocious the more dense free jazz can be--but when Like-Coping detours into outside playing, Parker is more reflective and spacy than confrontational. Not that this 2002 session goes outside very often--again, Like-Coping is, for the most part, an album of inside post-bop. Parker isn't one to be pigeonholed, and he wisely keep his options open on his enjoyable debut as a leader.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson