By j. poet | Published August 2018
Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days jump into the fire on “Siiva Moiiva,” the opening track of El Maquech. After a fanfare from O’Farrill’s trumpet and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown’s tenor saxophone, Walter Stinson takes a free-form bass solo, settling into a medium-tempo groove.
“Verboten Chant” is another deconstructed melody, and as bass, trumpet and saxophone open the arrangement with frisky harmonic figures, setting up Stinson’s extended bass solo, Zack O’Farrill adds some understated snare work. “El Maquech” stays close to its folkloric origin: Zack O’Farrill and Stinson play a waltz-like cadence, while the bandleader and Lefkowitz-Brown swap short phrases, darting around the melody like hummingbirds sipping nectar from aromatic blossoms.
“Get Thee Behind Me Satan,” a tune from 1958’s Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Irving Berlin Songbook, features a solo performance from the bandleader, full of unresolved tension. His melodic statements mimic Fitzgerald’s phrasing before brief, dissonant bursts jump into his high register, fading into whispered, sustained notes that convey the breathless struggle of temptation. His solo on “Shall We? (If You Really Must Insist)” is marked by truncated phrases that slide up to his high end, while Zack O’Farrill supplies remarkable asides. His bass drum is a calm heartbeat, while toms and snare skitter around in delirious rhythmic patterns. O’Farrell’s trumpet is impressive throughout. His restraint and inventive use of silence gives his playing a subtlety that should keep listeners on the edge of their seats.
El Maquech: Siiva Moiiva; Verboten Chant; El Maquech; Erroneous Love; Shall We? (If You Really Must Insist); Get Thee Behind Me Satan; Henry Ford Hospital; Pour Maman. (44:27)
Personnel: Adam O’Farrill, trumpet; Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, tenor saxophone; Walter Stinson, bass; Zack O’Farrill: drums.