Trumpeter Adam O’Farrill pivots away from his family’s musical legacy toward dazzling postbop sounds | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Trumpeter Adam O’Farrill pivots away from his family’s musical legacy toward dazzling postbop sounds


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Trumpeter Adam O’Farrill is just 23, but there’s already plenty of weight attached to his name. His father is the acclaimed, innovative Latin jazz bandleader and pianist Arturo O’Farrill, and his grandfather was the great Afro-Cuban bandleader Chico. He began to forge his own path early on in his career, making waves playing alongside saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa on the latter’s 2015 album Bird Calls (ACT) and establishing himself as an improviser of protean strength and melodic clarity. On his debut as a bandleader, 2016’s Stranger Days (Sunnyside), Adam eschews any connection to the lineage carved out by his forebears, pursuing a limber but sharply articulated strain of free bop that sparkles with erudition, soul, and precision. Leading a quartet with tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, bassist Walter Stinson, and his older brother Zach O’Farrill on drums, Adam proffers a vanguard postbop sound with rhythmic, elastic structures and harmonic thickets that support his sneaky, snaking melodies. A year ago I saw the group play a fiery but measured set in New York, and that performance, along with the group’s forthcoming second full-length, El Maquech (due in June from Biophilia), has completely convinced me that his band is the real deal. The album, which was recorded in the midst of a tour, captures the band playing with serious heat and interactive brio. This time out Adam explicitly draws upon nonjazz sources, opening with a thrilling adaptation of a northern Mexican folk tune called “Siiva Moiiva” and ending with a smoldering rendition of “Pour Maman,” an electro-soul song by New York singer-songwriter Gabriel Gárzon-Montano. While it’s early in 2018, I haven’t heard a better jazz record yet this year.   v

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