“Big band meets prog” is the tagline for Nathan Parker Smith’s release “Not Dark Yet.” Is it prog? It’s definitely big band, but to me it’s actually jazz. There’s nothing wrong with that either. Perhaps if this music was played by a band versus a big band, it might sound more prog. As it stands, “Not Dark Yet” is a great jazz album. Nathan composed all the songs and he has a top notch band playing his compositions. All of the songs are very tight and well played.
My main issue with “Not Dark Yet” is that there is a bit of a sameness to some of the tracks. They have tend to be too slow and drag before the time changes and things get more interesting. I expected more fireworks than there is. At times things get very interesting and complex, “Creature Rebellion” comes to mind. In other spots like “Solace,” the song is slower but it fits the mood perfectly.
tends to be on the shorter side, which allows them to never “over stay their
welcome.” But there are times like on the openers “Mega” and “Interstellar
Radiation Field” for example, that the theme never really gets a chance to
develop before it’s over. However, songs like “Spin” take you on an insane
voyage and show the potential that Nathan and his band possess. I love that!
All in all, “Not Dark Yet” is a great debut from Nathan Parker Smith and his large ensemble. It’s big band jazz but not like your grandparents used to listen to. This is modern jazz done by a talented composer and his band. Using guitar, bass guitar and drums to back the horn section does give this a rock feel too which makes this a highly unique album. This is not Trioscapes either. If you like jazz and crave something new and fresh, “Not Dark Yet” is definitely for you!