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The O'Farrill Brothers: Giant Peach

Dan Bilawsky By

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The O'Farrill Brothers: Giant Peach A glance at the five fresh-faced band members on the back of this album cover belies the fact that this is one killer assemblage of musical talent. The O'Farrill Brothers—the grandchildren of famed Cuban bandleader Chico O'Farrill and offspring of great Cuban pianist Arturo O'Farrill—aren't old enough to buy beer, but they're clearly old enough to drink in the deep waters of their musical heritage. Trumpeter Adam O'Farrill and drummer Zack O'Farrill, and their young band mates, deliver eight searing performances that showcase a musical quintet mature beyond its years.

While the offspring of famous musicians are occasionally content to trade on name-fame, that isn't the case here. Both O'Farrill brothers have clearly spent plenty of time developing their craft and Giant Peach is literally the fruit of their labor. This music is underscored by shifting rhythmic feels and hip, yet occasionally ominous, bass lines provided by Michael Sacks. The brothers O'Farrill open the album with the lone standard on the program, Benny Golson's "Stablemates," and immediately make it their own. Pianist Zaccai Curtis introduces the piece with three descending chords which remain when the rhythm section comes in, establishing a groove in fifteen. Both horn men—O'Farrill and tenor saxophonist Livio Almeida—provide some fireworks by themselves, but they both take it up a notch when the trading begins. As all of this plays out, Zack O'Farrill shifts between a more articulate groove and a slamming, trashy hi-hat-lead feel.

Almeida's lone composition on the album, "Face It!," is the first of several pieces to be driven by an excitable, cycling bass pattern from Sacks. Sacks' playing is a revelation, likely to be one of the next big things on bass, and his "Side Street," a quirky blues in seven that features a good amount of chromatic movement, proves to be an album highlight. Almeida delivers his most impressive solo work on the album here, perfectly capturing the soul and energy that dwells in this piece and the song ends with slow, woozy horn work from Almeida and Adam O'Farrill.

The second half of the album is a showcase for Adam O'Farill's compositions and each one provides different glimpses into his sharp writing style. "The Composing Process" is rhythmically choppy at first, but eventually establishes a solid rhythmic direction and "Happy Hours" is all about the rhythm section, with Sacks and Zack O'Farrill steering the band through the piece. "Crazy Chicken," which features a strong solo showing from the drumming O'Farrill, evolves in wondrous ways, allowing the quintet to demonstrate a unified vision in bringing Adam O'Farrill's compositions to life. The O'Farrill Brothers' Giant Peach, with all of its hairpin rhythmic turns, fantastic arrangements and first-rate soloing, is one giant success for two of the youngest Latin jazz lions to roar onto the scene in quite some time.

Track Listing: Stablemates; Face It!; Giant Peach; Side Street; The Composing Process; Happy Hours; Crazy Chicken; Afterwalk.

Personnel: Adam O'Farrill: trumpet; Livio Almeida: tenor saxophone; Zaccai Curtis: piano; Michael Sacks: bass; Zack O'Farrill: drums.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Zoho Music


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