An extraordinary project lead by multi award-winner piano virtuoso, Antonio Farao', whose unmistakable verve transpires at every touch of the keyboard.
Far Out spells vitality and elegance and is a continuous flow of creative energy, that comes together through the brilliant performance by the Quartet, featuring Bob Berg on sax, Dejan Terzic on drums, and Martin Gjakonovski on bass.
"I'm not often surprised by the recordings of musicians the way I was overwhelmed the first time I heard Antonio Farao' on one of his recent CD's. What amazed me was what I felt inside of me. There is so much warmth, conviction and power to his playing. I was immediately attracted to his harmonic conception, the joy of his rhythms and swing feel and the grace and ingenuity of his melodic improvisational lines. Antonio is not only a fine pianist but a great one." (Herbie Hancock)
Recorded in Ludwigsburg on 9 and 10 October 2002 at Bauer Studios
Recording & mixing engineer Johannes Wohlleben
Italian pianist Antonio Farao' is the name that inspired the FAR OUT Quartet and its CD, Far Out (CAM Jazz). But his name keeps company with heavy jazz hitters, such as John Abercrombie, Billy Cobham, and Brandford Marsalis. Farao''s saxophonist, Bob Berg, not only knows how to name-drop because of his collaborations with Miles Davis, but he also played some pretty 'far out' material during the late trumpeter's fusion excursions. Joined by the rhythm section of bassist Martin Gjakonovski and drummer Dejan Terzic, the two soloists only occasionally venture near the fusion of their past, opting rather for the classic melody and harmony associated with traditional jazz. Perhaps this makes Far Out a misnomer. But the disc's tranquil pieces, like Farao''s solo-piano showcase 'Fileds' (featured), succeed by coming in through the 'out' door. (JAZZIZ ON DISC)
The joyous occasion of this new disc by Italian pianist Antonio Farao' is unfortunately overshadowed by the tragic death late last year of saxophonist Bob Berg, his sideman for this recording. Berg, whose horn accented the bands of Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, and 1980s bands of Miles Davis, made his biggest splash with jazz/rock guitarist Mike Stern. His final recording features some very inspired playing. Farao, a child prodigy now a jazz sensation in Italy, has slowly entered into the US radar. His Black Inside (Enja 1998) with Tain Watts and Ira Coleman, while not given much notice, remains a solid trio session. Last year's Thorn boasted an all-star cast of Chris Potter, Jack DeJohnette, and Drew Gress. This session finds him with a European trio plus the American Berg. Farao' shares the spotlight equally with Berg, arranging tunes to focus not only on his compositions (8 out of the 10 originals), but also on Berg's soloing. The saxophonist exhibits a Coltrane inspired and very muscular sound on "Andalusia" and "Cat Steps." Farao' seems satisfied here to accompany. When he does take a solo, it is equal parts Bills Evans and Horace Silver. His classical training affords him the structure, yet his young age draws him into toward the music of Herbie Hancock. On the title track and its accessible pop opening, Farao' favors a fusion light introduction, only to segue into a hard bop workout. His bop-and-switch and the light touch Berg ladles out on "Simple" disguise the intensity behind this music. The highlight here is Farao''s composition "Fields," which he plays both in quartet and solo. This beautiful track sounds as stark as Bobo Stenson and as rhythmical as Bill Evans. The melancholic melody stays with you long after the disc stops turning.
- Mark Corroto
Herbie Hancock, who should be an expert about pianists, said about Antonio Farao': "Antonio is not only a fine pianist, but a great one". This preamble is undoubtedly excellent, but if you don't trust in Hancock's opinion, let's run to listen to this CD and you'll be able to find the exact confirmation of what he said.
Antonio Farao' was born in 1965 in Rome and since young he started studying piano, at first in classical field, then taking more interest in afro-american music; he participated in many contests and festivals, obtaining numerous prizes too. His record debut as leader took place in 1998 with his first record Black inside to which followed in 2000 Thorn in quartet with Chris Potter, Drew Gress and Jack DeJohnette and the last year Next stories all for Enja.
Since listening to these records it's clear that Farao' is not a pianist like the others: his manner to play is very personal, expressive and involving, he's able to maintain alive the attention of the listeners capturing them with the fluidity of the phrasing, with the lightness of the touch and with his virtuosity never ended in itself, but which becomes a means to create improvisations full of fantasy and dynamism.
This Far out is Farao''s fourth record and it sees him engaged in a very good quartet which include the American Bob Berg at tenor sax, and two musicians very active in the German jazz scene with whom he works together from some years, that are the Macedonian Martin Gjakonoski at double bass and the Bosnian Dejan Terzic at drums whom give both a strict but creative rhythmic contribution. This quartet introduce itself solid and compact, the interplay is top developed and it's clear the intent of the four musicians to play a good fresh jazz full of swing; it dislikes that this quartet is unfortunately destined to have not a future, considering the premature death of the saxophonist in the last December.
This CD includes 11 tracks recorded at Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg (with the same Stainway used by Jarrett!) all at the first take, as the pianist confirms in an interview, and this thing gives immediacy and naturalness to the various pieces. A piece by Miles Davis Seven steps to heaven opens the CD with Berg in very good form: the sound of his sax is brilliant, precise and fluent, supported by a fast rhythmic with the Farao''s contribute who plays in a percussive way. It follows Andalusia, for me perhaps the more charming track, with its waving progression as a slow bolero and with a very valuable solo by the pianist; More and Cat steps are the only pieces not written by the leader with the opening track; the first one is nearly cantabile considering the fluency of the melody played by Berg's sax, while the second one, more bop, after the sax intro is an occasion for the pianist to show off his skill with a very fast solo. Walking with my soul, how the title advises, is a more intimist piece, played by the trio, where is evident Farao''s ability to join the structure with the improvisation, lucid and measured; also a good solo by the bassist is to point up. They follow the fast and swinging Far out with again Berg in evidence, and a sequence of slow pieces: Fields with a slow cadence in a Mediterranean taste very good embellished by the work of the rhythmic, Simple based on the exposition of the spiral-form theme and on its variation by the pianist and For my friend with a melancholic nature. It's the turn of the fast One way that with its rhythmic and thematic variations is another occasion to demonstrate the excellent achieved level of interplay allowing also a Farao''s torrential solo on a shining accompaniment, followed by as much dazzling Berg's one and poly-rhythmic Terzic. It closes this record the reprise for solo-piano of Fields, simple exposition of the theme with its tormenting beauty which leaves inside the listener an intimate feeling of nostalgia and which shows, if still it needed, Farao''s skill as composer too
Pegged years ago by the late Kenny Kirkland as a rising piano star, Antonio Farao' has realized his potential and established himself as one of Europe's most respected young players. The Italian pianist teamed his trio with tenor saxophonist Bob Berg in this CD made less than two months before Berg's death in a traffic accident in December, 2002. Farao' and Berg were a perfectly matched pair, technical whizzes and masters of an international style not centered in the obvious characteristics of any country or jazz idiom. Their up-tempo playing here has high energy and a determined swing growing out of relentless forward movement. It has color and dynamism, even passion, but little overt humor or anything in the way of quotes or other obvious reference points to make it accessible to the casual listener. The medium-tempo and slower pieces are another matter. Farao' converts "How High The Moon" into a forthright 4/4 composition, "Cat Steps," whose familiar harmonic pattern provides a listening key. "Andalusia," Farao''s modish take on Iberian romanticism, is reminiscent in mood of "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" and has a riveting piano solo. "Walking With My Soul" is a trio piece with harmonic simplicity that would render it boring if not for Farao''s dazzling playing with a touch as light as Ellis Larkins'. "Fields" is a waltz in which Farao' and Berg achieve lyricism, as they do on the lilting "Simple" and "For My Friend," a ballad that deserves good lyrics. Bassist Martin Gjakonovski and drummer Dejan Terzic integrate effectively throughout with Farao' and Berg. On the off-chance that your local in-and-out or Wal Mart doesn't stock Italian imports, you can find Far Out at www.CamJazz.com.
- Doug Ramsey
Being able to translate their own emotions and thoughts in music. That's the dream of all real musicians. Antonio Farao, with Far Out, his last album, makes this dream come true. And after all how many jazz artists can count on the friendly support of Herbie Hancock? "I'm not often surprised by the recording of musicians the way overwhelmed the first time I heard Antonio Farao' on one of his recent CD's. What amazed me was what I felt inside of me. There is so much warmth, convinction and power to his playing. I was immediately attracted to his harmonic conception, the joy of his rhythms and swing fell and the grace and ingenuity of his melodic improvisational lines. Antonio is not a fine pianist but a great one". (liner notes by Herbie Hancock) After this so authoritative opinions what it's really possible to say more? Maybe yes. It still remains to talk about musicians of Far Out. They are Bob Berg (sax), Martin Gjakonovski (bass) and Dejan Terzic (drum set). Three musicians considered by Antonio Farao' himself such as his "ideal team". Far Out is suggested to people always looking for somenthing special by the music they listen to. Tracks : Seven Step to heaven, Andalusia, More, Cat steps, Walking with my soul, Far Out, Fields, Simple, For my friend, One way, Fields
- Massimiliano Cerreto
This is a superb, hard driving and energetic quartet date from Italian pianist, Antonio Farao, on what is quite possibly Bob Berg's last recording date before his tragic and senseless death last December.
The title 'Far Out' refers not to the style of the music being played, but is more aptly applicable to the composition of the same name, written by Farao, with it's strong rhythmic groove for the theme coupled with its supple and joyously swinging 'blowing' section, which allow both the pianist and saxophonist, Berg to stretch out with some delightful playing. Far out, indeed!
And this really sums up the date in general, great playing by great musicians who have found mutual ground and a natural rapport on a set of predominantly originals penned by Antonio Farao.
Farao is a new name to me, but as this release on Cam Jazz amply demonstrates a player that should not be overlooked. Born in Rome in 1965, Farao studied formally at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, and with Adriano Dello Giustina. His 'jazz studies' included sitting at various jazz clubs during the intermissions whilst still a teenager, and in 1998 recorded his first of three albums for the Enja label.
On the evidence here, he is a two-handed player, full of interesting harmonic ideas linked to a strong lyrical sensibility, reeling off the most wonderful flights of fancy with right hand runs that impress not for the technique required to execute, but for the musical content.
Bob Berg is a fine foil, with his sensitive side portrayed on the ballad, 'For My Friend' or strutting out on 'Cat Steps'. The only standard on the album 'Seven Steps To Heaven' is a tune that Berg must have played countless times, and here he injects it with a freshness and a still burning desire to play, with his distinctive sound on the tenor finding new twists and turns throughout a stimulating solo.
If Berg is in such fine form throughout, it should not be allowed to detract from the playing of quartet, or the leader himself; and it is fitting that Antonio get the closer, a solo version of 'Fields' (heard earlier in the programme with the quartet) to round off a totally satisfying sixty minutes.
If you like your jazz upbeat, swinging with a little urgency thrown in for good measure, then this is one for you.
- Nick Lea