Nope, this one’s not about hip-hop. Had it been, it would’ve been titled ‘Shorty ’n da Farm House’…something like that.
This is just a bit of jazz, and an excellent bit of it too. I had previously heard Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews) and James Farm (a collective of four of the brightest modern jazz artistes, the first letters of whose names form most of the ‘James’ of this outfit) online and on podcasts. I loved what I heard and put both of them in buy ‘Music to be procured’ list. That usually would mean Amazon and a careful prioritization of what to buy, given how expensive it is to import CDs both in terms of money and time. And then ‘STRIKE’! I stumbled upon both Trombone Shorty’s ‘For True’ and the James Farm eponymous albums in the local market at less than half of what I’d have paid on Amazon. Bless you, you unlikely merchandising manager.
Prior to Trombone Shorty, I had never before heard the trombone as a lead instrument – quite possibly owing to my own limited listening. This album featuring quite a guest list (Jeff Beck, Warren Haynes, Ledisi, Kid Rock among others) left me craving for more. Mind you, it’s not entirely what one would call jazz. There’s a good amount of soul/R&B thrown in, which took me a while to settle into. My favorites still turn out to be the ones that have no vocals, that showcase Shorty’s trombone playing skills. Songs like ‘Buckjump‘, the title track ‘For True‘ and the short ‘Lagniappe, Pt 1‘ (lagniappe means that ‘little extra that gets thrown in when you make a reasonably large purchase’ – sweet!).
James Farm boasts of the enormous talent of saxophonist Joshua Redman, keyboardist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. Be it the opening, mesmerisingly dark ‘Coax‘, the sprightly ‘Polliwog‘, the turbulent ‘I-10‘ and the closing, pensive ‘Low Fives‘, this quartet displays such sparkling chemistry in their music, in the tradition of the true great jazz star bands. I can only hope that while they pursue their individual careers, they do get together often to continue producing excellent tunes.