James Farm: Jazz Heavyweights Band Together James Farm isn't a person, but the name of a jazz supergroup comprising saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. The band's self-titled debut is complex and truly collaborative.


Music Reviews

James Farm: Jazz Heavyweights Band Together

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In the world of jazz, it's rare to find a band where everyone collaborates and chips in with the composing. The band called James Farm is an exemption.

Music critic Tom Moon has this review of the group and the album that bears its name.

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TOM MOON: My first reaction to James Farm: Wow, a band playing together, chasing a fairly specific idea about improvised music.

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MOON: New bands don't come along every day in jazz. The reasons are mostly practical. Gifted musicians like these - saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland - are in demand. They'd have to turn down lots of lucrative work to commit full time to one single enterprise.

But listen to these unusual compositions and the lively exchanges that erupt inside of them. Even though these players can only make a partial time commitment to James Farm, they're fully committed musically.

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MOON: Saxophonist Redman says that James Farm is truly a band. No one person was responsible for all the decisions. Everyone contributed compositions and ideas. The quartet built time into the recording schedule for discussion and also for trial and error. After they completed the first few pieces, Redman says it was clear they'd arrived at that rare thing: a band identity. And you can hear it in the lyrical, singing melodies and the carefully textured accompaniments behind them.

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MOON: Incredibly, James Farm only played about 20 gigs before recording this debut. Redman says there are sketchy plans for the future because everybody is busy. So here's hoping that the four manage to connect often enough to continue evolving as a band. It seems like the vibrant conversation they've begun here can go at least a few steps further.

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BLOCK: The band and the album are called James Farm. Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

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