If By Air
James Farm, comprised of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland, impresses on its self-titled debut. The members have quite a bit of experience working with each other. Everybody in this leaderless outfit contributes compositions. The opening track, Penman’s “Coax,” makes it clear that this is a band to be reckoned with. Dark, driving piano and clattering drums provide a backdrop for the melody, which is nicely played by Redman. Redman’s “Polliwog” combines the catchiness of a pop hit with stellar improvisations. The Middle Eastern-tinged “Chronos,” by Parks, manages to be both reflective and propulsive. (Harland is excellent here.) “If By Air,” written by Redman, opens with a mysterious organ drone before the band takes off. Penman’s short solo is sensitively backed by Parks, who later launches into his own compelling statement. The album closes with Penman’s “Low Fives,” a striking piece that moves at a snail’s pace. Bells and cymbals shimmer as Parks quietly unfurls lovely lines, and Redman’s soprano saxophone is magnificent.