Joe Farnsworth Takes The Wheel on New Album ‘In What Direction Are You Headed?’

Drummer Joe Farnsworth sets out on a bold new path in answer to the question In What Direction Are You Headed? and features a stellar all-star quintet with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Julius Rodriguez, and bassist Robert Hurst.

Released May 19th, 2023 via Smoke Session Records, In What Direction Are You Headed? marks a turning point in Farnsworth’s career, as he’s assembled a new quintet featuring not his renowned forebears but esteemed talents from his own generation and a younger, rising class. While he has honed his estimable skills behind the kit through decades of work with some of jazz’s greatest elders – iconic names like McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Harold Mabern, Horace Silver, Benny Golson, Cedar Walton, Barry Harris, Curtis Fuller, George Coleman, Johnny Griffin, Lou Donaldson, Cecil Payne, Kenny Barron, and others, in recent years, he’s seen many of his mentors pass away.

Joe Farnsworth’s New Album ‘In What Direction Are You Headed?’ is available via Smoke Session Records

“I’ve spent my whole life trying to play with great musicians like Cedar Walton and George Coleman and Harold Mabern, and I have been very fortunate to achieve those goals,” Farnsworth says. “Meanwhile, there are all these guys my age and younger players doing a whole new thing. It’s time for me to take the lessons I’ve learned from those elders and develop my own thing.”

The title track In What Direction Are You Headed? provides not only a mission statement for the album but also a bridge between past and future. The bold, determined Harold Mabern composition maintains Farnsworth’s ties to his past while pointing him in a new direction forward. “I knew I had all these great players who would take me to a different place,” he continues. “But the liftoff pad was going to be Harold Mabern, so I knew everything was going to be okay.”

More From NPR Music

NEA Announces Its 2021 Jazz Masters

Four luminaries – Henry Threadgill, Terri Lynne Carrington, Jimmy “Tootie” Heath and Phil Schaap – will be inducted in a ceremony scheduled, virtually, for next spring.