During the past decade, trumpeter and composer Adam O’Farrill has established himself as a leading young voice in jazz. Now on its third recording, his quartet Stranger Days is also beginning to cement its status among today’s elite groups. Their latest recording, Visions of Your Other, marks a personnel change as puckish, probing tenor saxophonist Xavier Del Castillo replaces the brawny-toned Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, but the group’s deep rapport and reflexive interplay remain. The interweaving lines between the horns create complex counterpoint and contrasting harmonies while bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Zack O’Farrill (Adam’s brother) generate enthusiastic, shifting rhythms that drive the band.
A sense of the cinematic underpins the compositions on Visions. Sometimes the influence is direct. The motivations of Stinson’s “Kurosawa at Berghain” are clear, and the title track, written by O’Farrill, takes its cues from a line of dialogue in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master (starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman). At other times the cinematic feel is more abstract. In its momentum and sensibility, “Inner War” feels like the intro to an ensemble-cast drama. “Hopeful Heart” blends other inspirations, merging motivation from D.H. Lawrence with a take on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “stakra.” At about 38 minutes, the recording is as short as one of the first LPs, but the music points clearly into the future with its ardent play.
O’Farrill, 27, has emerged with long shadows. His grandfather is legendary Cuban jazz pioneer Chico O’Farrill; his father is the renowned Arturo O’Farrill, leader of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra; and his mother is esteemed classical pianist Alison Deane. Yet between three excellent recordings with Stranger Days and a rapidly increasing list of stellar sideman gigs with the likes of Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl, Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls band, and Anna Webber’s Idiom ensembles, O’Farrill has built his own brand of innovative music.