Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: tenor saxophone; Walter Stinson: bass; Zack O’Farrill: drums.
Young and extremely talented, Adam O’Farrill is a modern jazz trumpeter from Brooklyn, NY, who comes from a lineage of marvelous musicians. His father, the widely known Cuban pianist, composer, and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill, has all the reasons to be proud of a son who, at the age of 21, has collaborated with Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joe Lovano, and more recently Stephan Crump’s Rhombal.
For this recording, Adam had the company of his brother Zack on drums, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone, and Walter Stinson on bass.
Outlined for quartet, Stranger Days was pretty much influenced by film and theater. Each tune attempts to paint a scene whose variable natures are somehow connected.
Sturdy and concise, the 6/8 “A & R Italian Eatery” relies on precise unisons and simultaneous improvisations, while the rhythm section flows through a fleet-footed bass and elegant brush drumming.
“The Stranger”, inspired by Albert Camus’ novel, is one of the strongest tunes of the record, starting with Adam’s intro and evolving into a beautifully melancholic march that alternates with passionate swinging passages. The effective improvisations succeed one another with color and feeling.
Highlighting Stinson's basswork and Zack's dry drumming, “Survival Instincts” appears as an awkwardly disconcerting dance that gets epic contours. It opposes to the simplicity of movements revealed in Stinson’s “Why She Loves”.
“Alligator Got the Blues” is another high point, showcasing a leisurely-paced introductory section before exploring alternative beats with a strong foundation in rock music. The mood is animated and the horns’ feast is no less vibrating.
Melodic repetition seems to have a purpose in “Forget Everything You’ve Learned at School”, contrasting with “Building the Metamorphosen Bridge”, which deals with a curious rhythmic complexity as it privileges interaction. “The Cows and Their Farm Walt”, stepping on a scenic ground, precedes the album's last tune, “Lower Brooklyn Botanical Union”, a contrafact of Billy Strayhorn’s “UMMG” that mixes bop and post-bop elements.
In this wonderful debut as a bandleader, Adam O’Farrill shows off all his qualities both in composition and arrangements. Because modernity in jazz is not always synonym of weird sounds, Stranger Days can be simply described as accessible freshness for our ears.
01 – A & R Italian Eatery ► 02 – The Stranger ► 05 – Alligator Got the Blues