Cover: $20 // Shows: 7:30 & 9:00
A rare L.A. performance of these two New York-based giants of jazz — dazzling “buespianist” Harold Mabern and the extraordinary drummer Joe Farnsworth.
Harold Mabern, one of jazz’s most enduring and dazzlingly skilled pianists, calls himself a “ bluespianist” because of the R&B influence in his native Memphis.
Harold was born in Memphis, a city that produced saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd, pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and trumpeter Booker Little. He was an unsung hero of the 1960s hardbop scene, performing and recording with many of its finest artists, and only in recent years has he begun to garner appreciation for his long-running legacy in jazz and the understated power of his talent; as critic Gary Giddins has written, “With the wind at his back, he can sound like an ocean roar.”
During his over half-century on the scene as sideman and leader, he has played and recorded with such greats as Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, just to name a few. “I was never concerned with being a leader, I just always wanted to be the best sideman I could be. Be in the background so you can shine through.”
Mabern explains a little about his background and its influence on his music – “There were some fine jazz musicians in Memphis, like Phineas Newborn, Jr., who I’ve always said was a musical genius. But if you wanted to make a living as a jazz musician in Memphis, you were also forced to play rhythm and blues music. At the time, we all thought it was taking away from our time with jazz. But now I realize what a joy it was. It takes a special kind of feel that all great improvisers like Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown understood. In fact, I think of myself as a bluespianist who understands jazz.” “Every day, even when I’m not practicing, I’m thinking about music. Most of the songs I’ve ever written are away from the piano while I’m walking down the street humming and whistling.”
"Over the course of many years within the wide parameters of my extended career as a professional musician and educator, it's been only upon special occasions that I've been prompted to use the word "extraordinary" when describing a musician and his possession of special talent. Joe Farnsworth is one of these. Mr Farnsworth's ability as a drummer is near to being absolutely perfect, and with a talent like that, one's ability is not always relegated to one area of expression." Benny Golson
Joe is dedicated to the great tradition of jazz drumming as conceived by men like Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins and Arthur Taylor and it keeps him in the practice room trying to continue and extend it.
Farnsworth is now known as one of the most recorded drummers on the scene, with over 70 cd's behind him, for musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Cedar Walton, Pharoah Sanders, Eric Alexander and Benny Golson. His first recording as a leader, "Beautiful Friendship" (Crisscross Records) featured pianist Cedar Walton and trumpeter Eddie Henderson while his second, "It's Prime Time" (88 Records) included special guest artists Ron Carter, Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson and Harold Mabern, Jr.
At 38, Joe has already performed on most of the greatest American and international stages. He appears regularly at New York City clubs like The Village Vanguard (Wynton Marsalis, Cedar Walton), Blue Note (Johnny Griffin, Horace Silver), Birdland (Lou Donaldson), Iridium (George Coleman, Pharoah Sanders) and Jazz at Lincoln Center (Wynton Marsalis). In any given year he is likely to be found backing major artists at the leading jazz clubs and festivals all over the world. Farnsworth, also a regular on the Jazz Festival scene, has played with Benny Green, Diana Krall (Montreal Jazz Festival), Curtis Fuller and Barry Harris (Northsea Jazz Festival), Pori Jazz Festival, Red Sea Festival and Umbria just to name a few. As a straight-ahead jazz musician, Joe has been compared to his idol "...not unlike Max Roach in his ability to combine furious playing with structural cogency, Farnsworth audaciously travels around the set, establishing unifying ideas without interrupting the barrage of strokes..."*