The Parable is the second full-length release from the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex recorded in a single session in June 2017 at the historic Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles. "What you hear on the record is literally the first or second attempt at playing these compositions in the room," says Chamberlin. "We just got into a room, sketched out the tunes, maybe jotted down an arrangement or two. Then, we were off to the races. We didn't want to get into forcing it too much. We wanted it to evolve in its own footprint. It freaks people out, but for me, I'm a big believer - not in an irresponsible way - in the idea of just letting things happen." "It's about sharing the experience, as it happens, together," echoes Billy Mohler, bassist and producer. "This was the warmest, most inviting session. It was about holding up someone's strengths and figuring out how to strengthen a group from inside of it."
These sentiments of humility drop away and the full force of a revelation hits along with the first strike of the snare drum on opener "Horus and the Pharaoh." There's something spider-like and ghostly about the guitar performance of Sean Woolstenhulme - the very first sound you hear on The Parable - whom both Mohler and Chamberlin give credit for the courage of joining this quintet in the first place. "Sean's never played a jazz gig in his life," says Mohler. "Randy Ingram and Chris Speed are very modern players with firm roots in traditional jazz who have established their own place in the contemporary jazz world. Sean is not from that world at all. So, of course, we thought, 'What would Sean sound like in this traditional setting?'"
Anyone who has ever heard an early Smashing Pumpkins record will immediately recognize the snare rolls and syncopated hi-hat accents that have come to define just a part Chamberlin's "style," for whatever that word might be worth. But in the context of The Parable, you begin to realize he is the outlier in a rock setting, not the other way around. "My sensibility as a musician was rooted around the music that I grew up with," says Chamberlin. "Being the youngest of six kids and having five brothers and sisters that were super big music fans, that could be anything from the Turtles and the Beach Boys to Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell, all the way down to McCoy Tyner, Mose Allison, and Count Basie. My dad was a clarinet player, so we listened to a lot of Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman when I was a kid."
The undeniable humanness of The Parable is on display with every note played - a comfort itself in a world increasingly barreling toward the synthetic and digitized - but it's that sound of standup bass, the strings and the wood and the hand that crawls across the fingerboard. That's what's real. That's the lesson. If a Parable is meant to leave us with something useful, it's just that - in 2017, you can call it jazz music, but it's really just the act of living translated into melody. The Parable comes to a close, collapsing into a disappearing echo, with everything that came before it condensed into a singular vibration on the very last note of the very last track "Dance of the Grebe."