Adam O'Farrill - El Maquech

Label: Biophilia Records, 2018

Personnel - Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Chad Lewkowitz-Brown: tenor saxophone; Walter Stinson: acoustic bass; Zack O’Farrill: drums.


Evincing a precocious musical maturity for his young age (he is 23), Adam O’Farrill became one of the most longed-for trumpeters on the scene. He was absolutely fantastic in Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls and Stephan Crump’s Rhombal, projects that gave him the visibility he needed to stand out. Born in a family of talented musicians (grandson of legendary Afro-Cuban composer Chico O’Farrill and son of pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill), Adam not only gathered all the traditional knowledge but also developed modern skills before forming his own quartet. His debut album, Stranger Days, was released two years ago on the Sunnyside Records to critical acclaim.

Like the work cited above, his latest album, El Maquech, features Chad Lewkowitz-Brown on tenor sax, Walter Stinson on bass, and brother Zack O’Farrill on drums. It exudes a multitude of influences, being a great addition to Biophilia Records' modern catalog.
Siiva Moiita”, a traditional Mexican folk tune, is reimagined with a provocative Latin touch and avant-garde grace, bringing into mind the playfulness of Dave Douglas. Channeling their creative energies and improvisational flair into an off-kilter dialogue, saxophonist and trumpeter differ in approach, with the former behaving more fidgety than the latter. All this occurs with the rhythm section fueling their whims with strenuous, throbbing polyrhythms.

Manifesting groove as an ideology, “Verboten Chant” makes us imagine Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri being subjected to a free-bop re-orientation. The composition adopts a more traditional avant-garde setting when compared to the title cut, in which the band speaks folkloric idioms through a fusion of mariachi music and adventurous jazz. Indeed, this is a curious encounter between profuse Latin melodies and marching rhythms.

Based on Monk’s “Eronel", “Erroneous Love” instantly captured my attention through the busy motif placed at its center together with the leisured yet purely instinctive bass flows, jittery drumming, and flawless interplay suffused with elliptical melodic trajectories. It precedes two compositions where the trumpet claims the spotlight: “Shall We”, a sketchy and rumbling duet with drums, and “Get Thee Behind Me Satan”, a song by Irving Berlin and popularized by Ella Fitzgerald, here transformed into an articulated monologue.

Before using ingenuity in the interpretation of Gabriel Garzon-Montano’s “Pour Maman”, which expands grandiosely and eloquently after a dark, solemn inception marked by deep bowed bass incisions, we have the Frida Khalo-inspired “Henry Ford Hospital”, another hectic odyssey into the ineffable soundworlds of contemporaneity. Expect to find shades of Jewish and Latin music, chirpy trumpet attacks, effusive saxophone counterlines, funk-inflected bass grooves, and ever-shifting gnarling drums.

Relying on the quartet’s collective power as well as on the strong individuality of its members, O’Farrill will consistently reach listeners interested in a fresh, electrifying jazz that pretty much reflects his go-ahead attitude.

       Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
04 - Erroneous Love ► 07 - Henry Ford Hospital ► 08 - Pour Maman