Jeff Parker

He // Him // His

[ID: A portrait of a brown-skinned man sitting with his hands resting on a 1951 Gibson ES-150 electric guitar. He sits in shadow in front of a wood panelled wall, with specks of sunlight punctuating the image. He looks out at the viewer from behind black horn-rimmed glasses with an expressionless face. He has short dreadlocked hair and a small chin beard.]

Musician and Composer
Altadena, CA
2022 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

With a career spanning three decades, Jeff Parker (b. 1967, Bridgeport, CT) is widely recognized as one of modern music’s most versatile and innovative musicians and composers.

Perhaps best known as a member of the influential indie band Tortoise, Parker is also a founding member of Chicago Underground Quartet and Isotope 217. As a guitarist, he is featured on over 150 commercial releases. Credits as a side musician include recordings and performances with Andrew Bird, Joshua Redman, Dave Douglas, Vijay Iyer, Smog (Bill Callahan), Nicole Mitchell, Toumani Diabate, Yo La Tengo, Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade, Makaya McCraven, Joey DeFrancesco, Gerald Clayton, Bennie Maupin, Patrice Rushen, Carmen Lundy, Nels Cline, Meshell Ndegeocello, Clipping, and visual artists Theaster Gates, Charles Gaines, Cauleen Smith, and Harold Mendez.

Released in 2016, his albums The New Breed and Slight Freedom were named two of the top ten jazz releases by The New York Times, while The New Breed was named the top jazz album of 2016 in The London Observer. His latest album, Suite for Max Brown (2020), debuted at number one on the Billboard Jazz Chart and was included on numerous year-end best-of lists. Renowned contemporary music ensemble Dal Niente commissioned and premiered his composition “Water on Glass” at the 2016 Ear Taxi Festival.

An aspiring film composer, he has scored several documentaries and contributed pieces to feature films and video games. Parker has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1995.

Portrait photo by Lee Anne Schmitt.