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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE AWESOME RECORDING DEBUT OF THE "JAMES FARM" JAZZ GROUP, 30 Oct. 2011
This review is from: James Farm: Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, Eric Harland (MP3 Download)
Five DAZZLING Stars. Outstanding compositions and performances! "James Farm" is the eponymous studio recording debut of the all-star jazz quartet that burst on the scene with its acclaimed first appearance at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival. It is composed of tenor and soprano sax titan Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks' keyboard fireworks, the superb Matt Penman on double-bass, and DownBeat Critics' 2-time "rising star" winner, Eric Harland, on drums. For those of us who missed the previous fanfare, like me, this 'forward looking' recording is somewhat of a shocker. On this CD, each member of the group contributes compositions and they perform as a cohesive, balanced unit that swings hard and is both highly intellectual and very emotional. Sometimes this distinctive group briefly veers away from the deeper waters of jazz within a song, adding variety to the mix. The compositions are original, very intricate, and often stunning in execution, with the faster numbers like "Chronos" and the boiler works of "I-10" riding over churning tempos, often interspersed with quieter interludes, with dazzling solos by all players. The turbulent "Coax" is a perfect example of their approach, giving as much attention to the composition's group form as to the improvisations, taking us through minutes of shifting tempos and mysterious moods before evolving into an ethereal solo by Parks, followed by more group interaction, eventually erupting into a blazing solo by Redman. While mainly an acoustical group, Parks also effectively utilizes some electronic keyboards as on "If by Air". "Polliwog" has one of Redman's many superb solos of the date, pushed along by Penman and Harland, mainly using drums and rim shots. But there are also beautiful, hip ballads like the sensual "Bijou", "Low Fives", "Unravel" and the awesome, time-shifting "Star Crossed". In summary, this is a very important new group, sometimes showing trace influences of Weather Report and Sphere, but operating in its own area code, opening up unique group interactions, dynamics, and solo possibilities. Encore, gentlemen! My Highest Recommendation. Five IMPRESSIVE Stars! (This review is based on an Amazon.com Cloud upload of 10 tracks plus PDF Digital Booklet; 10 tracks; Total time-68:51.)
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