Did you know that in the southern hemisphere, Jimmy spins in the opposite direction?
Some say that Jimmy Parker is on a mission from God to bring respect to the Sousaphone. Others say his brain has been affected by too many high velocity Sousaphone spins. Either is a plausible reason for his slightly abnormal affection for the instrument.
While attending Temple University as Bass Trombone performance major, Jimmy first played Sousaphone in the Temple Diamond Marching Band and was instantly enamored with it. After leaving Temple and playing Trombone and Bass Trombone with a number of jazz bands and wedding bands for some years, Jimmy got an emergency phone call from a band looking for a bass player. The gig was starting in a few hours and an electric or upright bass player could not be found and they were reaching out for anybody. So Jimmy borrowed a Sousaphone from a friend and played the gig. Not having played Sousaphone in four years, Jimmy was concerned that it would be really bad, but the result was quite to the contrary; that band stopped using a bass player and started using a Sousaphone instead.
Over the years Jimmy’s goal was to play every type of music style on the Sousphone and with every possible configuration of musicians. From vocal duos to a soloist with an orchestra, Jimmy has played Jazz, Klezmer, Balkan, Salsa styles along with Rock, Heavy Metal (a natural for a Sousaphone), Grunge, Hip Hop and Rap. The imagery of a Sousaphone playing in a Coldplay cover band is quite interesting. Perhaps Jimmy’s best work has come with his Sousaphone in children’s CDs. Of particular note is the very earthy style he plays which seems to connect well with young children in their formative years (maybe because he is still in his formative years).
Having never taken a formal lesson on tuba, Jimmy credits his major influences to be Kirk Joseph, Sam Pilafian, Patrick Sheridan and Jonathan Dorn. Kirk is the utilmate groovemaster, Sam and Patrick for
their melodic interpretation and great range and Jonathan for his great ability to play with vocalists and a model of what a crossover brass bass player could accomplish.
Over the years, Jimmy has played with some of the finest musicians locally and internationally, having toured in Europe and throughout North America. From jazz artists Phil Woods and Bill Watrous to performances with the Four Tops and Rebirth Brass Band, artists have acknowledged the power of his playing and his musicality. Some of Jimmy’s most enjoyable performances were in Atlantic City where he
could demonstrate what the Sousaphone could do, playing with Arty and the Hot Katz and his own band, RocknSouza. Currently he devotes a lot of time playing with WPO.