Adam O’Farrill Is Only Scratching The Surface

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Adam O’Farrill is among the 25 artists DownBeat thinks will help shape jazz in the decades to come.

(Photo: Alice Plati)

​The 26-year-old trumpet-playing son of pianist Arturo O’Farrill and grandson of composer/arranger Chico O’Farrill, feels fortunate to have contributed to a slew of recordings by his peers on today’s jazz scene. A solid section player and a head-turning improviser, Adam O’Farrill made his professional recording debut on tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown’s 2013 breakout album, Imagery Manifesto. He took third place at the 2014 Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Trumpet Competition and began touring and recording in Rudresh Mahanthappa’s quintet that same year.

More recently, O’Farrill was called upon by guitarist Mary Halvorson to play on her brand-new Code Girl release, Artlessly Falling. He appears on a new big band recording by saxophonists Anna Webber and Angela Morris titled Both Are True (Greenleaf Music)—a project he describes as “one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of.” O’Farrill’s horn provides one of the frontline voices on pianist Glenn Zaleski’s new quintet album, The Question (Sunnyside). And in coming months, he’ll be featured on releases by saxophonist Aaron Burnett and drummer Tarun Balani.

And that’s just scratching the surface. O’Farrill has played on dozens of important albums in the last several years, including Cuba: The Conversation Continues with his father’s New York-based Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. But his work as a bandleader and composer has been most meaningful to the young trumpeter/flugelhornist, who heads the wide-ranging quartet Stranger Days (with his brother Zack on drums) and an electro-acoustic nonet called Bird Blown Out of Latitude.

“With Stranger Days, I feel like we’re making more progress as a band than ever before, so that’s always going to be a priority,” O’Farrill said, noting that the group has a new album on the horizon. “But looking ahead, I do have other things in mind. There are different mediums I want to get into. I aspire to be a storyteller, and I include other forms aside from music in that. Right now in my life, I don’t see music as the be-all and end-all.” DB

This story originally was published in the November 2020 issue of DownBeat. Subscribe here.



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