Joe Farnsworth, Time to Swing Review
by Sylvannia Garuch
Joe Farnsworth is a well-respected jazz drummer on the scene today that is known for his blazing speed, precision, musical, and melodic playing. Born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, Farnsworth grew up in a musical family; his father was a music educator, and he has four older brothers, two of whom became professional musicians. He graduated from William Patterson College in New Jersey in 1994, where he began playing with saxophonist Eric Alexander and guitarist Peter Bernstein. Farnsworth’s career includes recording over 100 CD’s as a leader and side-man, jazz festivals and world tours with Pharaoh Sanders, Horace Silver, Harold Mabern, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Diana Krall, Benny Golson, George Coleman, Johnny Griffin, Lou Donaldson, Benny Green, Barry Harris, Curtis Fuller to name a few. He is currently the drummer for McCoy Tyner and a member of the Pharaoh Sanders Quartet, Harold Mabern Trio, and is a founding member of the renowned One for All Quintet. Time to Swing is his latest album featuring Kenny Barron, piano, and Peter Washington, double bass. Wynton Marsalis guest on four tracks.
“Hesitation” by Wynton Marsalis was first heard on Marsalis’ self-titled album in 1982. On this date, the tempo is faster, and Marsalis plays a muted trumpet; both are complimentary upgrades. The Swing by Washington and Farnsworth is excellent. Farnsworth’s brushwork is smooth and balanced. The energy is heightened when Barron enters, and Farnsworth switches to sticks. Barron picks-up where Marsalis leaves off. Barron’s time feel and sophisticated approach to the rhythm changes are outstanding. He is a true master.
“Lemuria” is one of the highlights of the project. The trio playing on the date is excellent. The chemistry between Barron and Farnsworth is exciting and interactive. Barron has a vast vocabulary that he spins to build his solo in imaginative ways and textures. Farnsworth’s trading with Barron shows his melodic drum skills. Few drummers can make their kit sing melodically as Farnsworth.
Time to Swing is ten songs that showcase Farnsworth’s wonderful musical sense and time mastery. The highlights are the trio selections, tracks five through ten. The chemistry of the trio is something special. Based on the jazz language of the ’50s and ’60s, Time to Swing is a jazz fan pleaser.