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

The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble: Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland

There is a coterie of devoted people working to make sure Gary McFarland is not forgotten. It includes family, friends, musicians, colleagues and film director Kristian St. Clair, whose documentary This Is Gary McFarland became available for purchase late last year. In the DVD package is a CD with a previously unissued McFarland gig from 1965. Now there is Circulation, with 11 new interpretations of McFarland tunes. The band is vibraphonist Joe Locke, saxophonist Sharel Cassity, pianist Bruce Barth (who did the arrangements), bassist Mike Lawrence and drummer Michael Benedict (who was married to McFarland’s late widow, Gail).

McFarland was a gifted composer-arranger who died in 1971, at age 38. From a career of only 10 years, he left behind a portfolio of songs unique in their cool melodic grace. “One I Could Have Loved” makes you wonder why his best pieces haven’t become standards. Like all great ballads, it sounds preordained. It might have fallen, fully formed, from the sky. It is quintessential McFarland, a bittersweet alchemy of hope and melancholy. Barth’s fresh arrangement pieces it out so patiently. Cassity, on alto saxophone, releases it in gentle waves.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published