Jazz Album Review: “Visions of Your Other” by Adam O’Farrill – Humanizing the Mechanical


By Michael Ullman

I find Visions of your other exciting. It is beautifully recorded: these are four musicians concerned with their sound.

Adam O’Farrill, Visions of your other (Biophilia)

This completely original, often moody recording features 27-year-old frontman Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, Xavier Del Castillo on tenor saxophone, Walter Stinson on bass and brother Zack O’Farrill on drums.. The family bond seems inevitable: the O’Farrill brothers are the grandsons of the great Cuban musician Chico O’Farrill, a Latin jazz innovator whose recordings date back to the late 1940s: he arranged and conducted the famous “Afro -Cuban Jazz “from Machito Suite.” They are the sons of pianist Arturo O’Farrill, who has recorded dozens of his own compositions as well as numbers as varied as “Moment’s Notice” by John Coltrane and “Walking Drums Woman” by Carla Bley. “ Adam’s recording career dates back to at least 2009 when he appeared on his father’s record Risa Negra (Zoho): his opening piece is titled “One Adam, 12 Mambo. ” Many of us first heard the trumpeter in other contexts: he toured with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s band for three years and he plays on Bird calls. He’s also on Mary Halvorson Code girl and last year Naively fall, as well as the recording of the big band of Anna Webber and Angela Morris Both are true.

According to the chef, the six digits of Vision of your other are in part designed “to humanize something very mechanical”. The mechanism used in the opening act, “stakra”, is the Paulstretch, and it has the ability to “slow down … even pull … the music without changing its pitch”. The rock band Bear in Heaven used the device to do a 44-minute piece of work for “almost four months.” “Stakra” is a piece by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto which appeared on his album asynchronous. Fortunately, O’Farrill isn’t as extravagant in his use of the Paulstretch as Bear in Heaven. (The trumpeter’s taste and sense of proportion are evident throughout the record.) This piece begins with high-pitched, seemingly electronic notes that create a tense background for O’Farrill’s entry, which is first and foremost. heard on the drums in a resonant space. The group seems to gradually emerge from this context until O’Farrill and saxophonist Del Castillo freely improvise together and against each other, sometimes with echo effects. Now in a realistic soundstage, O’Farrill repeats a twisted descending phrase that is likely the center of the track. Then, about three minutes later, “stakra” suddenly calms down, and O’Farrill and Del Castillo play long tones together until the end. Like the other five performances on this record, “stakra” is designed to create a cohesive vibe in varied textures – there is no point in showing anyone’s chops. It is not a question of launching chords either: as for all the songs on Vision of your other, his chord changes are minimal. The articulate freedom of soloists and group improvisations is what “humanizes” the performances.

“Kurosawa at Berghain” begins with an open trumpet solo with virtuoso war tones that quickly enunciates the rhythmic phrase that will define the piece. Bassist Walter Stinson composed the melody, but the performance follows the previous pattern: the themes on Vision of your other are generally treated as rhythmic devices. Berghain is a district of Berlin: it is also the name of an exclusive nightclub known for the sexual activities that are supposed to take place there. I don’t know what Kurosawa was doing there. O’Farrill’s interpretation is brilliantly uptempo. “Hopeful Heart” is a slow and melodically rich quartet piece in which trumpet and tenor saxophone utter short lines in unison. Del Castillo is the first soloist: the composition is dedicated to – and inspired by – the sometimes hopeful DH Lawrence. What is striking here and elsewhere on the album is how beautifully the bassist and percussionist interact. Here, the nervous saxophone phrases are encouraged and probably influenced by Elder Zack’s drums. As free as the improvisation is, one could sing many lines of bassist Stinson.

Trumpeter Adam O’Farrill

O’Farrill calls the final number, “Blackening Skies, ” “both apocalyptic and humorous.” The subject is global warming and the melody begins with the two horns repeating threatening notes. They move between two heights, apparently changing once one of the trumpeters signals a change. A second section arrives, and it is much more alive: it is composed for the most part of staccato notes which are variations on the initial declarations. I hear a faint echo of the sound that Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry were making, playing one of Coleman’s lines roughly. O’Farrill explains that the piece was influenced by electronic music: “There is a perfection in a lot of electronic music that allows his ideas to be flexibly interpreted by live instruments, which opens up a world of sound. exciting and endless. “

I find Visions of your other exciting. It is beautifully recorded: these are four musicians concerned with their sound. Music is both free and grounded; the performers play with exuberance and with admirable awareness and responsiveness to what others do and think.


Michael ullman studied classical clarinet and was educated at Harvard, University of Chicago, and University of Michigan, from which he earned a doctorate in English. Author or co-author of two books on jazz, he wrote on jazz and classical music for the Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, High fidelity, Stereophile, Boston phoenix, Boston Globe, and other places. His articles on Dickens, Joyce, Kipling and others have appeared in academic journals. For more than 20 years, he has written a bimonthly jazz column for Fanfare Magazine, for which he also criticizes classical music. At Tufts University, he mainly teaches modernist writers in the English department and the history of jazz and blues in the music department. He plays the piano poorly.


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