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Moon Germs

Joe Farrell

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Album Review

Recorded in 1972 and released in 1973 with Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, and Jack DeJohnette, Joe Farrell's Moon Germs was a foray into the electric side of jazz. On the opener, "Great George," Farrell leads off with the hint of a melody before careening into legato streams of thought along striated intervallic paths. DeJohnette is like a machine gun, quadruple-timing the band as Clarke moves against the grain in a series of fours and eights, and Hancock's attempts to keep the entire thing anchored are almost for naught. On the title track there is more of a funk backdrop, but the complex, angular runs and insane harmonic reaches Farrell attempts on his soprano, crack, falter, and ultimately turn into something else; the sheer busy-ness of the track is dazzling. "Bass Folk Song" by Clarke, is the only thing on the record that actively engages melody rather than harmonic structures. Farrell uses his flute and Hancock strides into the same kind of territory he explored with Miles Davis, chopping up chordal phrases into single lines and feeding them wholesale to the running pair of frontmen—in this case Clarke and Farrell. DeJohnette uses a Latin backdrop to hang his drumming on and pursues a circular, hypnotic groove on the cymbals and toms. It's a gorgeous piece of music and utilizes an aspect of space within the melodic frame that the rest of these firebrand tunes do not. This is sci-fi Farrell at his creative best.

Biography

Born: 16 December 1937 in Chicago Heights, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Joe Farrell's CTI albums of 1970-1976, which combined together his hard bop style with some pop and fusion elements, made him briefly popular among listeners not familiar with his earlier work. Farrell began playing clarinet when he was 11 and, after graduating from the University of Illinois in 1959, he moved to New York where he worked with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band (1960-1961) and Slide Hampton (1962), and recorded with Charles Mingus, Dizzy Reece, and a notable series with Jaki Byard (1965)....
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Moon Germs, Joe Farrell
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