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03/29/13

The O'Farrill Brothers Band
Sensing Flight

Sibling-led jazz bands aren’t particularly rare. The Latin-jazz side of the street alone has recently brought the likes of impressive groups led by brothers with the surnames Rodriguez and Curtis. Now comes the O’Farrill Brothers Band, with trumpeter Adam, 18, and drummer Zack, 21, third-generation jazzers whose accomplished second album makes their first CD, 2011’s Giant Peach, sound like a starter kit by comparison. The sons of pianist, composer and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill (the recording’s producer) and grandsons of bandleader Chico, Adam and Zack offer invigorating playing throughout a program dominated by the trumpeter’s compositions.

The sextet, with returning bandmate Livio Almeida (tenor sax) joining Adam on the frontline, takes on Carla Bley’s tricky, starting-stopping “Wrong Key Donkey,” featuring Almeida’s incisive playing with plenty of open space for Zack’s long rolls and pointed tumbles on trap kit. Adam goes unaccompanied at the start of Billy Strayhorn’s “Upper Manhattan Medical Group,” demonstrating his winning way with a familiar melody and his knack for supplying an improvisation endowed with body, shape and energy. And Almeida’s “Action and Reaction” opens with a long tete-a-tete between the co-leaders.

The trumpeter’s compositions fuel the rest of the album, starting with the playful melody of the opener, “Drive,” which also boasts a long exchange between Adam and guitarist Gabe Schnider, who uses his fusion-edged tone to good effect. “Monet,” aptly, offers long notes and impressionistic chordal textures, along with some beefy playing by bassist Raviv Markovitz, while “Mind Troubles” thrives on a jaunty groove and a friendly tune. The disc closes with a slowly unfurling ballad, “Sensations,” a multi-segmented piece that moves from contemplation to fury and back again. Like everything else on the CD, the rangy tune makes a convincing showcase for young musicians challenging each other to do high-grade work.

Originally published in March 2013
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