The prodigious progeny of famed pianist/composer/bandleader Arturo O'Farrill
rightfully turned a lot of heads with Giant Peach
(Zoho Music, 2011), but that record is easily eclipsed by Sensing Flight
. With this sophomore release, drummer Zachary O'Farrill
and still-in-his-teens trumpeter Adam O'Farrill have gone a step beyond, reaching a level of artistic confidence that eludes most musicians of any age. Sensing Flight
sets its course around the trumpeter's music, with six of the nine tunes belonging to the younger O'Farrill brother, and his horn is also the most striking thing on the record. His artistry, tonal personality and confidence have taken a quantum leap forward since Giant Peach
, as he creates stories with focused dramatic arcs, à la trumpeter Terence Blanchard
, and delivers a more muscular and emotionally direct brand of playing that connects him to latter day horn heroes like Ambrose Akinmusire
As a composer, Adam O'Farrill finds satisfaction by working jazz from all angles. He takes familiar forms, like shuffling, bluesy soul music ("Mind Troubles"), but keeps things interesting by throwing in a few wrenches. He creates hip, off-kilter groove scenarios that underscore communicative interplay ("Drive") and loose flowing, concentrically connected encounters ("Monet"). He even allows pure, unfiltered beauty to rise to the surface when the day is finally done ("Sensations").
While the young trumpeter deserves all the copy he gets for his work on this album, he isn't alone on this journey. The elder O'Farrill sibling proves to be an excellent driver, whether navigating choppy roads ("Wrong Key Donkey") or putting things on cruise control. He makes otherwise-awkward metric constructs seem simple and he pushes and pulls in all the right places, with a little assistance from firm-and-flexible bassist Raviv Markovitz
. Pianist Adam Kromelow
and guitarist Gabe Schnider both do an excellent job balancing their duties as rhythm section men and front-and-center soloists, but it's saxophonist Livio Almeida
who proves to be the most impressive non-O'Farrill on the date. He matches Adam O'Farrill, mood-for-mood and stride-for-stride, and adds some contrast to the program with a seriously grooving, funky compositional contribution ("Action And Reaction"). As individuals, each man stays his own course and does his duty, but as a group they come together as family; sibling simpatico may be on display between the actual O'Farrill Brothers, but musical bonds turn all six players into brothers-in-arms.
Sensing Flight isn't an album from fledgling jazzers waiting to take off; it's a recording from an already airborne crew of mighty musical flyers.