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Farnell Newton: Feel The Love

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Farnell Newton: Feel The Love
When cellist Pablo Casals was 93 years old, someone asked him why he still spent hours a day practising. Casals humorously replied that it was because he was beginning to notice some improvement. Like Casals, many other musicians spend hours practising and, in most cases, this dedication comes purely from a true love of music. Trumpet player Farnell Newton is no exception and, with Feel The Love, his passion for music is evident throughout.

During the first two decades of the millenium, Newton established himself as one of the top trumpet players in music. Musicians from different genres, including hip-hop, Latin, and funk have utilized his talent. However, Newton's true passion is jazz and, with Feel The Love, his third Posi-Tone release, he offers an excellent collection of jazz performances.

Newton is joined here by a core group, featuring Art Hirahara on piano, bassist Boris Kozlov, and Rudy Royston on drums. Guest artists include saxophonists Jaleel Shaw, Patrick Cornelius, Braxton Cook, and Brandon Wright, along with Michael Dease on trombone, and Joe Strasser on drums. Each of the players is an expert performer, and the album features a variety of jazz styles, including straight-ahead, hard bop, bossa nova, and even a little free jazz thrown into the mix.

With Feel The Love, Newton pays tribute to some of the artists who inspired him along the way. The title track, for example, is a tribute to Wendell Logan, one of Newton's professors at Oberlin College. Logan provided a great deal of instruction about music, but he also taught Newton how to live life for love rather than fame and fortune. This song is definitely a cooker, and it features some impressive piano work from Art Hirahara.

The track "Affectionately Roy" is a nod to the late Roy Hargrove, whose playing, as Newton describes, "has always been a big inspiration and a transformative influence on my trumpet playing." This emotionally-uplifting song features excellent performances from the core band along with a tasty solo by Braxton Cook on alto saxophone.

Improvisation is at the heart of Feel The Love and this is probably most evident in the cover of John Scofield's "I'll Catch You," a classic Scofield groove with just enough funk to give the players an opportunity to stretch out and have some fun.

That same sense of pleasure is also evident in Sean Nowell's "Pale," a somewhat adventurous track which Newton describes as "a fantastic, fun-filled musical roller coaster." The changes and accents in this piece give some unexpected surprises throughout. Also, Jaleel Shaw offers an excellent alto saxophone solo on this one.

While the majority of the selections on the album take a somewhat mainstream approach, Newton also gets into a little free jazz territory with "Lawn Darts." This Peter Brendler composition, which originally appeared on the 2014 Posi-Tone release Outside The Line, captures the spirit of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. It also gives Newton a chance to acknowledge the influence of his great uncle, Sunny Murray, whom he describes as "the father of avant- garde drumming."

Ultimately, as the title suggests, this album is all about love or, more specifically, the love of music. Newton is clearly a musician who is dedicated to his craft, and the passion for playing he and the other members share comes across on this release.

Track Listing

Feel The Love; Affectionately Roy; I'll Catch You; A Child Not Yet Born; The Bluest Eyes; Litoral; Pale; The Force Of Gravity; Laws Of Motion; Lawn Darts; Our Chosen Family.

Personnel

Farnell Newton: trumpet; Art Hirahara: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Rudy Royston: drums; Braxton Cook: saxophone; Jaleel Shaw: saxophone, alto; Joe Strasser: drums; Brandon Wright: saxophone; Patrick Cornelius: saxophone, alto; Michael Dease: trombone.

Album information

Title: Feel The Love | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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