It’s always difficult to write about jazz records, and it’s especially difficult to do so in 2012. For a genre that’s not been relevant for at least four decades, no music is analysed and critiqued as much as jazz. Hip-hop, techno, electro, all have they’re critics but at least they’re compared to their contemporaries. Thanks to Davis, Coltrane, Dizzy and Thelonious, jazz has been left abandoned by unprecedented brilliance and perfection. No other genre has been honed, crafted, or raised to the level jazz was during the late fifties, early sixties.
So where does that leave the “Clark Woodard & Joe Farrell” album? Possibly notable only due to the appearance of John “Scatman” Larkin? Well it’s a loose, free sounding affair, lacking in rigid cohesion but at the same time it does contain a lot of feel. Why it’s called “Clark Woodard & Joe Farrell” I’ll never know, because the sessions are led by Larkin, yet his name doesn’t even appear in the titles. In fact, three of the tracks on this album are lifted straight from John’s seminal self-titled LP.
If you want to know about the music, you can read my review of the John Larkin LP, for it all follows the same sessions. The only interesting addition in my opinion is the appearance of a cover of Coltrane’s “Naima”. It’s executed very well and is, actually, a fantastically interesting version of “Naima”. Complete with an unintelligible but gorgeous female vocal, “Naima” showcases the groups ability to shape and twist music into something a little unique. Larkin’s playing is by far the stand out feature for me. “Angel’s Flight” has been cut unforgivably shot, reduced from nine minutes to around five. The major crescendo is gone, neutering the whole effect of the piece. This, however, only give me more justification to blow the dust of the Larkin LP.
“Clark Woodard & Joe Farrell” is to say the least, an odd CD. It would appear to be an attempt at gathering some old studio recordings and piecing them together with no real aim. The music is very technical at points, but never intrusively so. The album lacks direction and polish, but then again, should it just be viewed as a compilation of works? An archive of sorts? I don’t know, I’m confused. I do like it though.
So who should buy this CD? Well, anyone remotely interested in Larkin, Woodard or Farrell probably already have it, and anyone unaware of its existence should probably remain so.