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Monterey Jazz Festival: James Farm

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Monday September 19, 2011

From The San Jose Mercury News

Monterey Jazz Festival: James Farm
By: Richard Sheinin

The all-star band James Farm is: Joshua Redman, saxophone; Aaron Parks, piano; Matt Penman, bass; Eric Harland, drums. The group doesn’t hit you over the head with this, but it aims for pop concept, craft and (sometimes) concision. Tonight on the Arena state, it carefully shifted mood and groove from tune to tune; the overall effect was something like a suite on a concept album.

There was a ballad that felt like a ramble down a country road. There was a gorgeous gospel-inspired piece (Redman’s “Star Crossed”). There was a touch of hip-hop, more than a touch of Coltrane, with a Spanish tinge. Generally, each tune lasted five or eight minutes, not long by jazz standards.

But if there’s some kind of pop identification going on, it’s not at the expense of jazz intensity. Redman unspools long, long lines that grow feverish; his tone is fine-lathed and gets purer with every year. Parks is a different kind of player; his lines seem to arrive from an invisible horizon, from out of nowhere; spontaneous combustion.

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