Christian Musicians United

“Another noteworthy artist in the Gospel-jazz scene is New York based vocalist, Fred Farell, who recently sent me a tape tagged simply “Live—At the Solid Rock Café, May 21, 1993.” The recording features an excellent back-up ensemble called “JazzLite” consisting of Jeff Kruh on piano, Donald Hanson on saxophones, Jonathan Gilley on bass, and John Moriarty on drums. Vocally, Fred’s voice is smooth, clear and high register; kind of like Neil Sedaka meets Mel Torme. Altogether, this is a real nice tape for jazz enthusiasts. Lyrically it is 100% Gospel with an emphasis on praise.”

Sal Baldino, Christian Musicians United

Rebecca Brooker
JAZZIZ Magazine

In the early 70s, burgeoning jazz vocalist Fred Farell began studying with pianist Richie Beirach in New York City, developing his ear and his chops as an improviser. Beirach encouraged his student to write lyrics to jazz compositions and before long Farell was diving into works written by Beirach and his colleague Dave Liebman. Farell penned heartfelt, evocative words that added context to the Beirach’s and Liebman’s dramatic music, but after a religious awakening decide to leave the jazz world in 1980. More than 30 years later, Farell revisited the lyrics he had written and found they still spoke to him. Thus inspired, he contacted Beirach and Liebman and proposed that they finish what he had started. The subsequent trio album Distant Song (Whaling City Sound) was well worth the wait. Farell’s yearning vocals float and drift over the stark and moody terrain of Beirach’s piano and Liebman’s saxophone and flute, the lyrics wistfully introspective. On “Leaving”, included here, Farell’s voice rises and falls like a wind-blown leaf, the music and the lyric sketching a bleak landscape. Beirach, who composed the piece sets the stage with a gorgeous, heartbroken solo passage that’s later echoed in Liebman’s soprano sax and wooden flute. Farell’s voice is filled with regret as he sings about a painful parting. However, by song’s end he’s on his way back to the place where his heart lies, an apt metaphor for his return to this music. 

Rebecca Brooker
LA Jazz Scene

Vocalist Fred Farell’s latest project Distant Song captures the music of Liebman and Beirach beautifully. Farell didn’t merely copy Liebman’s and Beirach’s compositions, he added sublime lyrics and a magically ethereal vocal style.

Devon Wendell, L.A. Jazz Scene

Rebecca Brooker
Jazz Weekly reviews Distant Song

Rich toned vocalist Fred Farell comes up with the creative idea of mixing voice to the songbook of post-bop legend Dave Liebman. The trio of Farell with Liebman, along with Liebman’s long time associate Richie Beirach/p is both an intimate and poetic affair.

There are a couple instrumentals, as Liebman’s soprano longs with Beirach on “Forgotten Fantasies” and floats on the puffy “Zal.” Otherwise, Farell has an Elling-like flexibility on “Broken Wing” and does some stark work during “Leaving.” A languid “Places” and dreamy “Lonnie’s Song” is a triad of creative shadows, while with Liebman’s tenor, “Tomorrow’s Expectations” is a yearning delight. Lots of space for you to insert your own thoughts and take in the lyrics, mood and atmosphere. A charmer.

View the review here.

Rebecca Brooker
Lemon Wire

"Listening to Farell is like stepping back in Time, to mid-20th Century America, when Jazz and Romance were popular. His Sounscapes are like Odes to Love...Farell's "Distant Song" provides enough soothing sounds for listeners to ponder the Human condition...He is joined by Dave Liebman on soprano & tenor Saxophones, and by Richie Beirach on acoustic Piano." 

— Dodie Miller-Gould, Lemon Wire

Rebecca Brooker
Contemporary Fusion Reviews

"I give Fred, and his fellow master (musicians) an energy quotient rating of 4.99 for this CD...One of the strongest Jazz Vocal performances I've listened to yet in 2018."

Rotcod Zzaj (Dick Metcalf Associates/"Contemporary Fusion Reviews)

Rebecca Brooker

"...FARELL is the real deal in terms of Sincerity, his voice speaks authority as does the tender Truth expressed in his Lyrics...and musical arrangements...A performance that regularly stops your tracks..."

— Stephen Graham/MARLBANK

Rebecca Brooker
O's Place Preview

"The mood of the Program is dark blue, solemn, and well matched to Fred's Baritone, and the accompanying Instrumentation...with Farell writing all the Lyrics."

— D. Oscar Groomes: O's NOTES - O's Place Preview

Rebecca Brooker
Scott Yanow reviews 'Distant Song'

"Fred Farell's new CD is rewarding on several levels...adding to the Jazz Vocal Repertoire. His singing is warm, quietly expressive, and really gets into the messages of the songs...Fans will find much to enjoy on this rewarding set."

—Scott Yanow, Jazz Journalist/Historian

Rebecca Brooker
Cheryl Ann Harper

“Fred Farell’s Jazz Praise, is more than a spin on gospel, it’s like a new category in the genre. Farell is definitely one of the cool guys, who doesn’t have to establish himself by shrieking out hostile lyrics and using other manipulative tactics, popular with today’s contemporaries.

Instead, Jazz Praise combines Farell’s uncompromised vocalist abilities and the skills of his band (Jeff Kruh, Don Hanson, Jon Gilley and John Moriarty) to produce a sound that is hip, melodious, and clear. Rather than the typical gospel album, that serves as a conviction of the human spirit, Jazz Praise offers reassurance that deep down, you know the way.”

– Cheryl Anne Harper, Author

Rebecca Brooker