Strata East holy grail! Alto saxophone player and New York City native Shamek Farrah released his first album as a bandleader in 1974, shortly after signing to Charles Tolliver and Stanley Cowell’s black jazz powerhouse Strata East. First Impressions is a no-nonsense slab of four heavy spiritual jazz pieces that exists at the apex of jazz-funk and free jazz, played by a cast of Strata East regulars who overlap solos but retain a tight groove throughout. Features the Farrah originals “Meterologicly Tuned” and “First Impressions”, slow-burner “Watch What Happens Now” composed by Fredger Dupree and the funky “Umoja Suite” composed by trumpeter Norman Person, who also plays on the record. The highlight, and perhaps Farrah’s finest contribution to jazz, is the eleven-plus-minute title track; Milton Suggs rolls out a seriously heavy jazz-funk bassline (later sampled by Q-Tip) joined by Kenny Parker’s infectious percussion and sublime, reverb-heavy piano licks courtesy of Strata East mainstay Sonelius Smith (don’t miss Smith’s extraterrestrial thousand-finger workouts around the nine minute mark). Now considered one of the brightest moments in Strata East's excellent catalogue, original copies often fetch up to $600, with a few represses of questionable origin and authenticity over the years further necessitating this high-quality reissue by the wonderful Superfly Records. Limited pressing of 1000 copies in finely-reproduced Japanese tip-on sleeve with obi strip. Watch what happens now: this record is gone by next week. Recommended!
- high quality Japanese tip-on sleeve
- obi strip
- limited to 1000 copies
- music label: Superfly Records 2017
reviewed by nick nightingale 04/2017