Al Farrell | New Orleans On a Saturday Night

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Urban/R&B: Southern Soul Pop: Pop/Rock Moods: Type: Compilations
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New Orleans On a Saturday Night

by Al Farrell

New Orleans R&B, Soul, Pop are all represented in this eclectic CD.
Genre: Urban/R&B: Southern Soul
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. New Orleans On a Saturday Night
3:14 $0.99
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2. Streetcar Run Right By My Door
4:07 $0.99
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3. Nothing Two Loving Hearts Can't Do
3:44 $0.99
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4. Where Were You
5:17 $0.99
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5. The Mirror of Love
3:59 $0.99
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6. You Burn Me Twice-- Shame On Me
3:35 $0.99
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7. Streetcar Keeps Rollin'
2:58 $0.99
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8. Those People Don't Live Here No More
4:45 $0.99
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9. True Love Is Gone
3:13 $0.99
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10. Do You Miss Me
3:31 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Who is Al Farrell ? keyboardist/vocalist/composer/arranger ?

This CD celebrates Al Farrell's 50th year as a professional musician in New Orleans. A career that's survived Katrina, an aborted detour into law school, a crazy early marriage and other hazards.

Farrell came over recently to shoot the breeze and reminisce about his last five decades. At 64 he is lean as a whippet and could pass for 50. He talked at length about growing up in the Carrolton neighborhood, his apprenticeship with the teen band The Counts (and their friendly rivalry with the Matadors), his early encounters with the likes of Mac Rebennack and others. After a while he moved to the piano and played some tasty blues licks, full of the flavorful rolls that have been part of the New Orleans pianist's repertoire since Gottschalk.

" New Orleans on a Saturday Night" is full of this flavor, an album running over with Crescent City feel. The grooves and horn arrangements evoke for the most part the halcyon days of New Orleans 50s and 60s R&B. Featured soloists include James Rivers and Jerry Jumonville, eminent sidemen and longtime friends of Al's.

Atop it all are Farrell's vocals, keening and heartfelt, expressive in the way that only a longtime veteran's can be. Congratulations Al; at an age when many people are thinking of retirement, you've put out your first CD, and its a fine one.

-- Tom McDermott, New Orleans, 2008



History tells us that Ponce de Leon searched in vain around Florida for the Fountain of Youth. Al Farrell has discovered it in New Orleans through his music. Incredibly, he has been singing and playing rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and standards since the mid 1950's.

As an infant, he played along with 78's by Pete Johson and Albert Ammons, unable to realize these and other boogie woogie giants had influenced a young man across town who was starting to make a big career throughout the world at a quick pace: Fats Domino, Al's first idol. Al called the music "Dubba Dubba." His parents nicknamed him "Ali - Boogie." His Mother, Wessie Breaux Farrell, Bachelor of Music, Loyola, 1939, brought him to classical piano teachers she knew beginning in 1948, but admits to being astonished at his ear. Like all kids in the fifties, Al listened to the roots of Rock&Roll, and his ear began soaking up all of it.

In the New Orleans tradition of Mac {Dr. John} Rebennack, Frankie Ford and others, Al Farrell came up playing and singing Rhythm and Blues as if it were his bread and butter, and in New Orleans, it usually is. In addition to starting bands, then rehearsing and playing all weekend, Farrell spent his weeknights interrupting school work to select material, learn lyrics, chord changes, and arrange for horn sections. Playing professionally since 1957, Farrell's bands evolved into The Counts, 1959 - 1967. From Bunny Matthwews in The Times Picayune, Oct.29, 1982: "Farrell, back in the late '50's, purchased the very first electric piano in New Orleans, after discovering that his idol, Ray Charles, played such an instrument. The Counts were Farrell's band, and they ruled the New Orleans sock-hop and prom circuit."

Farrell returned to school, graduating from {UNO} with a degree in political science. He tried Law school for a year, but never strayed too far from the piano-playing path. While with The Counts, he backed up the likes of Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, Snooks Eaglin, Professor Longhair, Benny Spellman, Bobby Mitchell, Danny White, Aaron and Art Neville, Shirley and Lee, and Earl King.Through club owner Joe Carrona, Al finally met Fats Domino one night, and the three of them stayed up all night talking. Says Al,"Here was Fats Domino,a man so comfortable at home in New Orleans that he later declined an invitation to the White House, and he seemed delighted that I was familiar with the most subtle aspects of all of his early records that he guessed my age, right on the money. He also came to check out The Counts the next weekend, and stayed for three sets." Wrote Earl King for Al's first professional bio in the 80's: "One band in particular that was always a pleasure for me to work with was 'The Counts' directed by Al Farrell, a dedicated musician whose consciousness was ahead of its time...I never rehearsed any of my songs with The Counts, they performed them as though they made the original recording, and many times better. It was at this time that I first recognized the rare talents of Al Farrell...and I'm hoping...that he will be discovered by the ears that Count."

While Al Farrell's first personal CD album is obviously New Orleans flavored, he is a songwriter, and takes advantage of this aspect of his talent by adding a couple of true ballads. "The Mirror Of Love" tells of a long-standing couple getting out of themselves to take a look at where they've come from, and where they're heading. It also features a beautiful alto sax solo by Jerry Jumonville, a friend of Al's from their Carrollton days, when they knew everyone by name in the Ray Charles horn section, and everyone who would be called by Dave Bartholemew and Allen Toussaint to play sessions on recordings from Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino, to Irma Thomas and the Neville Brothers. Farrell was proud of his neighborhood buddy, and would shout out his praises when Jerry would appear as the leading horn player in the movie with Bette Midler and Kris Kristorferson, or show up on the credits of a Rod Stewart album as the arranger of the Tower of Power horn section. "Pretty good for a guy from the old neighborhood," Al says proudly. Jumonville also wails on tenor throughout the CD, taking four roaring solos on "True Love Is Gone".

Another beautiful ballad is "Do You Miss Me", with its Elton John style piano-intro, and poignant lyrics. "I don't exactly fly in the face of a 'New Orleans' concept CD, but I've been a songwriter for years, and this is my first chance to have a compilation of my own tunes, so why not throw in a couple of ballads, just as long as the lyrics tell a story, and the vocals are soulful. Ray Charles taught me and millions of musicians around the world that it is possible, as long as good taste is a staple. Many in New Orleans would first describe me as a blues musician, because work has mainly dictated that I go back to my roots: Early Smiley Lewis with Tuts Washington on piano, early Champion Jack Dupree, early Fats Domino, early Big Joe Turner with Pete Johnson or Henry Van Walls on piano, and, of course, early Ray Charles. But I studied the European classical tradition on piano, then was excited by boogie woogie, my first love of American music. As time went on, standards of the 20th century were added to my repertoire, but jazz was the art America has given to the world, and blues is a part of jazz. Sometimes it takes someone like Eric Clapton or the Beatles to remind us of that. Music itself is a very powerful art form. Just check out the formation of Atlantic records, for example."

Farrell speaks to the art of telling a story. Every one of his tunes on his truly eclectic CD does tell a story; from a man calling for his New Orleans lady to let her hair down, because it's Saturday Night, to someone else who finds privacy next to a streetcar barn, a ride on the streetcar lines of the Crescent City, a jilted lover who doesn't care about his lover's ways, the persistence of a beautiful love if the partners are commited. Then there's the steely resistence to being hurt again, and owning up to it as a personal responsibility, the agony of being unable to even find a way to check up on an old flame. It is life, with all its beauty, hopes and dreams that won't quit. Come to think of it, it is Al Farrell; in his mid-60's, and still with us.

-- G. Boeke 2008

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