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Take Five With...

Take Five With Andy Farber


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Meet Andy Farber:

Andy Farber is an award-winning jazz composer, arranger and saxophonist and has spent years performing with the likes of Jon Hendricks and Wynton Marsalis. Since 1994, Farber has been part of the Jazz @ Lincoln Center stable of writers and performers.

Through J@LC, Farber has toured with the J@LC Orchestra, written originals compositions and arrangements and been a guest artistic director. Farber has written arrangements for people like Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn, Bobby Short, Ann Hampton Calloway, Frankie Laine, Alan Harris, Cynthia Scott, Billy Stritch, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Joe Lovano, Lee Konitz, Joe Piscopo, Joe Cocker, George Benson, Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Spacey, Wynona Judd, Fantasia, Ernestine Anderson, Vanessa Williams, and Roseanna Vitro.

Farber's arrangements have been performed by The Boston Pops Orchestra, the Philly Pops Orchestra, the Boca Pops Orchestra and several symphony orchestras throughout Europe. Farber has been a guest conductor of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, and, in 2004, made his symphonic conducting debut with the Bronx Arts Ensemble. In April 2010, Farber was the guest music director for Jazz @ Lincoln Center's "The Music of Fats Waller." His work as an arranger, conductor and instrumentalist can be heard on numerous recordings, commercials and television/film scores.

As a leader, Farber leads an eight-piece band (Andy Farber & His Swing Mavens) and a 17-piece big band, Andy Farber & His Orchestra. The orchestra enjoyed a two-year residency at Birdland in NYC. A new CD with the orchestra is due out in the fall of 2010.

When he's not playing jazz, Farber composes music for TV and film and is a staff composer at Duotone Audio Group. Farber also teaches jazz composition and arranging at The Juilliard School in New York City.


Saxophones, clarinet, flute, arranger.

Teachers and/or influences? Saxophone teachers and/or mentors: Budd Johnson, Chris Woods, Arnie Lawrence, Billy Mitchell and Jesse Farb.

Composing/arranging teachers and/or mentors: David Berger, Mitch Farber, Carl Strommen, Mike Abene.

Influences: Arranging/composition: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Ernie Wilkins, Mary Lou Williams, Benny Carter, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, Tadd Dameron, Neal Hefti, Billy Byers, Marion Evans, Jimmy Mundy, Gerald Wilson, Al Cohn, Sy Oliver, Don Redman, Skain, Fletcher Henderson, Frank Wess, Gerry Mulligan, Clare Fischer, Don Costa, Billy May, Oliver Nelson, Janice "Ms. JJ" Johnson, many others;

Saxophone: Hawk, Prez, Bird, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, Zoot Sims, Paul Gonsalves, Gene Ammons, Johnny Hodges, Frank Wess, Billy "the Sloth" Mitchell, Budd Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Jim Pepper (yes, that's right!) John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Wardell, Stan Getz, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jackie McLean, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Red Kyner, Hank, Charlie Mariano, Marshal Royal, Skeets Herfurt, Willie Smith, Jerry Dodgion, Jerome Richardson, got to stop now...getting tired!

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I was four years old.

Your sound and approach to music:

Play and write music that is fun to play and write. As long as you're true to yourself, don't worry about what other people think.

Favorite venue:

Birdland, NYC!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

The latest one because it's the new baby.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

I had grown up with my father's jazz record collection of classic albums of the '50s and '60s. The first record I bought with my own money was Oliver Nelson's The Blues and the Abstract Truth.

CDs you are listening to now:

Dan Block, Dan Block Plays the Music of Duke Ellington: From His World to Mine (Miles High Records);

Sherman Irby Quartet, Live at the Otto Club (Black Warrior Records);

Ernie Wilkins, Top Brass and Trumpets All Out (Fresh Sound).

Desert Island picks:

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Such Sweet Thunder (Columbia);

Donald Byrd, Blackjack (Blue Note);

Count Basie, April in Paris (Verve);

Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt, Boss Tenors (Verve);

Ernie Wilkins, The Everest Years (Empire Music Group Inc).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I wouldn't dare say.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Don't forget to swing and play the blues.

What is in the near future?

About to start a "two tenors" record with Dan Block. (Tribute to Zoot and Al) Next big band project will be jazz arrangements of Louis M. Gottschalk music.

By Day:

Staff composer at Duotone Audio Group. I also teach jazz composition and arranging at the Juilliard School.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

classical musician?

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Andy Farber

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