Farrell, Joe

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Farrell, Joe

Farrell, Joe, American saxophonist; b. Chicago Heights, III, Dec. 16, 1937; d. Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 10, 1986. He began studying tenor saxophone at 16 and moved to N.Y. after receiving a degree in music education from the Univ. of 111. He began working with Maynard Ferguson and also worked and/or recorded with Charles Mingus, Slide Hampton, Dizzy Reece, Jaki

Byard, and others in the early 1960s. Farrell quickly rose to prominence in the late 1960s for his creations as a founding member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orch. and as a featured soloist with Elvin Jones. In the early 1970s, Farrell’s saxophone and flute solos reached wider audiences through his stints with two of the three versions of Chick Corea’s Return of Forever. During that same period, he recorded several albums for Creed Taylor’s CTI label, which showed him to be one of the finest voices of that period on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute, playing all with equal finesse.

Although he was at home in a variety of contexts, FarrelFs modal and hard bop work was most exceptional. Unfortunately, he was extremely underrated and he did not become the huge name that many had expected. For the latter part of the 1970s he worked with Flora Purim and Airto, among others, and in jazz-rock contexts before he joined the Mingus Dynasty band in 1979. The 1980s found him back in a mainstream jazz direction and he recorded albums for Xanadu, Timeless and Contemporary and toured with Joanne Brackeen before his untimely passing in 1986.


Outback (1971); Darn That Dream (1982); Vim ’N Vigor (1983); Joe Farrell Quartet (1987); Moon Germs (1987); Sonic Text (1990).

—Bill Wahl

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Farrell, Joe

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