James Farm

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: James Farm
LABELS: Nonesuch
PERFORMER: Joshua Redman (sax), Aaran Parks (piano), Matt Penman (bass), Eric Harland (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: Nonesuch 7559797780

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The James Farm quartet has actually been gigging for a couple of years: perhaps that’s why the guys sound so right together on this long awaited debut recording. The close-knit band members say they’ve pooled their wide-ranging influences to make ‘song-based grooves’. But I don’t hear anything so simplistic: I hear a somewhat deep and questing jazz form. Redman’s usually insouciant, swinging lines are troubled here, the rhythm section adding to the vexed feel of the music with nervous fills and prods. Parks’s ripple effect piano accompaniment offers no balm, instead adding more questions. The passages when all four musicians improvise in unison are jaggedly beautiful. This is what happens when four equal composers and improvisers get together in the studio. They test and push one another into challenging places. No instant classic this – but a very rewarding grower. Garry Booth