AVAILABLE NOW: Joe Farnsworth | “City of Sounds” | Smoke Sessions Records
AVAILABLE NOW via Smoke Sessions Records
Drummer Joe Farnsworth Celebrates the Fortitude of
New York City’s Jazz Community with
Second Release for Smoke Sessions Records
City of Sounds Features
Kenny Barron and Peter Washington
Prior to the events of 2020, it may have been easy to take New York City’s thriving and diverse music scene for granted. But when clubs went dark and an unsettling silence descended on the metropolis, it served as a stark reminder of just how vitally important it is to keep the music alive. Drummer Joe Farnsworth determined to do just that, and remained a stalwart jazz warrior throughout the pandemic. His celebratory new album, City of Sounds, is both a testament to his efforts and a heartfelt tribute to the musical melting pot he’s called home for more than three decades.
Available now on Smoke Sessions Records, City of Sounds was captured onstage at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club with a superb trio featuring legendary pianist Kenny Barron and bass titan Peter Washington. The three are reunited from Farnsworth’s Smoke Sessions debut, Time To Swing, which also included Wynton Marsalis in the line-up. Here Farnsworth sticks to the core trio, a format in which he’s thrived throughout his storied career – including collaborations with McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Harold Mabern, Hank Jones, David Hazeltine and ELEW, among many others.
“I’ve learned so much from this city,” Farnsworth declares. “Then the city got rocked, so I wanted to try to give back. One of the ways I could do that was by staying here and playing whenever and however I could to keep the sounds alive.”
The performance represented by City of Sounds is just one example of that effort. A thrilling live concert from Farnsworth’s birthday week in February 2021, it bears the traces of the strange period we’re just now emerging from, with musicians in masks and separated by plastic barriers, playing to an empty club for an audience of virtual listeners streaming the music live at home.
Not that any of those inconveniences are reflected in the music. The trio plays with as much vigor, wit and muscularity as if the place was packed throughout a rollicking set that spans the stylistic spectrum. That’s one of – if not the main – reasons that Farnsworth remains so dedicated to his adopted hometown, and one that he was proud to see survive the travails of a turbulent period.
“I went on a Black Lives Matter march from Inwood through Harlem that ended up at a park on the West Side Highway,” he recalls. “As we marched, people were flying the flags of the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, and you’d hear salsa music playing from their windows. Then you went through Harlem and heard funk and soul and rap music. Everyone was cheering for the same thing, but there were all these different sounds. You can’t get that anywhere else in the world.”
If that trek can be summed up in a single tune, it’s here in Barron’s “Bud-like,” a tribute to bebop pioneer Bud Powell that also bears a slight Latin tinge. Farnsworth continues the Latin feel with his sultry original “Ojos Cariñosos.” Translated as “brown eyes,” the tune is dedicated to a Dominican friend and was inspired by his collaborations with percussionist/bandleader Bobby Sanabria and lessons learned from Miguel “Mike” Amadeo, the Puerto Rican-born songwriter and proprietor of Casa Amadeo, the city’s longest-running Latin music store.
Joe Farnsworth · City of Sounds
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: October 1, 2021
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