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

Adam O’Farrill: Stranger Days

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Stranger Days is the young trumpeter Adam O’Farrill’s official recording debut as a leader, but he’s been attracting notice from the jazz cognoscenti for a while. That’s thanks to his being featured on saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s acclaimed 2015 album, Bird Calls, as well as coleading the O’Farrill Brothers Band and working with the siblings’ father, pianist-bandleader Arturo O’Farrill. In the piano-less quartet on the new disc, Adam again is joined by drummer brother Zack O’Farrill, but the former clearly leads as chief provocateur.

The band, with Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone and Walter Stinson on upright bass, takes its conceptual cues from film and theatre, designing each piece as a scene, with the musicians playing characters whose actions are intended to drive the story and affect the soundscape of that particular composition. “A&R Italian Eatery” has the horns engaging in long, sprawling lines, sometimes in unison, sometimes in harmony, and back-and-forth volleys, conversing over ambling rhythm-section figures. “The Stranger,” named for the Camus novel and inspired by Mingus, affords the leader the opportunity to assert his own voice at the start, unaccompanied, his trumpet spinning lines that double back before engaging with Stinson and then the rest of the group. “Survival Instincts” finds the horn players moving across varied terrain, seemingly fighting the rhythm section for dominance.

Stinson contributes a pair of compositions, the creep-crawling “Why She Loves” and “Forget Everything You’ve Learned at School,” which allows much open space for bass and drums. “The Cows and Their Farmer Walt,” inspired by a Mickey Mouse cartoon, is capped with Zack’s explosive solo, and the disc closes with “Lower Brooklyn Botanical Union,” its frisky melody, over a driving groove, weaving in a reference to the music of the O’Farrills’ iconic grandfather, Chico.

Purchase this issue from Barnes & Noble or Apple Newsstand. Print and digital subscriptions are also available.

Originally Published