Farnell Newton, Feel the Love Review
By Sylvannia Garutch
Farnell Newton is a jazz composer and trumpeter born and raised in Miami, Florida, where he absorbed its many forms of music, including jazz, salsa, funk, and hip-hop. He moved to Philadelphia, where he attended the High School of Creative and Performing Arts (C.A.P.A.) and gained more exposure to and experience with the music he truly loves — jazz. Later, Farnell graduated from the Denver School of the Arts and then moved to Ohio to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. At Oberlin, Farnell studied Music Performance, emphasizing jazz with Wendell Logan and trumpeter Kenny Davis. During his time at Oberlin, Farnell Performed with many musicians, including Aretha Franklin, James Moody, Marvin Santiago, and Muhal Richard Abrams. After graduating from Oberlin, Farnell moved to Portland, Oregon, where he has performed regularly with musicians such as Mel Brown, Thara Memory, Bobby Torres, Johnny Polanco, Ricardo Lemvo, and Darrell Grant to name a few. Newton traveled east from Portland, Oregon, to New York City to work with Posi-Tone to create his latest album, Feel the Love. He is joined by pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummers Rudy Royston and Joe Strasser. Special guests include Jaleel Shaw, Braxton Cook, Brandon Wright, Michael Dease, and Patrick Cornelius.
After initiating play, you are greeted with the velvety richness and low simmer of “Feel The Love,” the title track. A modern jazz harmonic color and feel is established by Hirahara, Kozlov, and Royston. Newton’s trumpet sound is very focused, warm and his line shine over the rhythm section like a weathered voice sewing wisdom. Hirahara’s piano solo vibrates with expansive chords and a time feel promising to take you to the toe tapping zone.
“Laws of Motion” is a hip bebop-influenced swinger that has that deep 50s jazz feel. Jaleel Shaw joins as the guest alto saxophonist to augment the sound to that rad two-horn front line. Newton’s solo is intense while still riding the delicate, fluttering, narrow line of aggression and lyricism. Lyricism wins to the very end, and this song is an exemplary representation of his burgeoning artistry. Shaw’s alto solo is growing and gracefully crafted. The rhythm section keeps the swing deep and dives elegantly to trace the timely evolution of the thinking of both Newton’s and Shaw’s solos. This is a slice of honest, ultimately stirring, American jazz.
Feel the Love is flowing compositions and performing wrapped around a meaningful meditation on modern straight-ahead jazz. Newton’s vibe is sunny, soulful, and lives in the comfort of the 50s, toned with today’s grooves and harmonic language. His trumpet gently persuades with ripples with imaginative, adventurous lines his value to the jazz scene. In conclusion, Feel the Love is a tempest of jazz with many wonderful musical moments.