Album Review

Farrah, Shamek – “First Impressions ” – [Strata-East]

Max Level   3/8/2006   12-inch, Jazz

Impressive 1974 material by this somewhat obscure alto saxophonist. Farrah, Norman Person (trumpet), and Milton Suggs (bass), fine players all, are on every track, working with a different pianist and drummer on each side. Side One includes a straight-ahead bebop-style cooker and a ballad number. Side Two leans more toward the funky, with a couple of extra percussionists, and some especially good work by pianist Sonelius Smith. The title track is outstanding, with its meandering melodic lines and thoughtful soloing over a massively funky groove. I was not familiar until now with the excellent Strata-East label, which reportedly released somewhere around 50 albums during its existence. They focused on the jazz aspect of raised Black consciousness in 1970s America, with powerful releases by Clifford Jordan, Charles Brackeen, Pharoah Sanders, and Gil Scott-Heron, to name but a few. Needless to say, material not to be slept on.

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