Wednesday, April 27, 2011

James Farm – James Farm (Nonesuch, 2011)

James Farm is a modern jazz collective consisting of Joshua Redman on saxophones, Aaron Parks on piano, Matt Penman on bass and Eric Harland on drums. They play a nicely atmospheric brand of modern jazz that is influenced by many different genres and experiences. It’s a true cooperative, with egos pushed to the side and everyone concentrating on the music. The music tends to build slowly and develop and morph as the improvising begins in full. The opening track “Coax” demonstrates this with slow building saxophone and drums making way for a piano interlude before Redman steps up with a confident solo building to a fine conclusion. “Chronos” continues in this vein with the quartet patiently building in an architectural manner, developing a faster and mysterious vein of music. They use the loud/soft dynamic to their advantage, building tension and then releasing it at the best possible moment. There are some nice uptempo workouts to be found here as well, like the spunky piano, bass and drums that open “Polliwog” making way for a well constructed saxophone solo over some excellent drumming. “I-10” continues the supple drumming with saxophone and piano probing and gaining speed with a post-modern rock influence on the bands improvisation. Their ballads show comfort with slow grooves and tempos, with the music played in a patient and non-rushed manner. “Bijou” develops a slow gospel-ish feel from the piano, while light and gentle saxophone move things along at a slow and easy pace. The same is true of “Unravel” where ballad saxophone and deep, thoughtful bass set the table for a flowing piano solo. Supergroups can sometimes be a dicey proposition, but this one works quite well, with the musicians playing with great focus and the music thoughtful and accessible throughout. James Farm -

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