Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Allen Farnham: Meets the RIAS Big Band

In approaching this project, pianist and arranger Allen Farnham turned a challenge into an opportunity. Here are the factors: confidence in the musicians of the RIAS (Radio in America Sector-without question, this must be Berlin!). Big Band, under the direction of trombonist Jiggs Whigham; concern about scant rehearsal time; key soloists to include, in Hendrik Muerkens on harmonica and Chris Potter on tenor sax; a successful rhythm section coming together for Farnham in New York, with Chris Berger on bass and Tim Horner on drums. The solution: “a sort of ‘concerto grosso’ thing,” setting up the quintet and the full ensemble to play off one another. And play they do: Farnham’s workout on Nat Adderley’s “Work Song,” for example, opens with the quintet following a given path, and then veers into a very different feel as the whole band attacks. Worth mentioning: Potter’s feature spot on “My Foolish Heart,” and Coltrane’s “Cousin Mary,” which closes the set.

Originally Published