That night at Vibrato came 10 years after Wynton Marsalis invited Farinacci—then a Juilliard bound Cleveland high school student--to be a special guest on the PBS Broadcast “Live From Lincoln Center.” Clearly, the trumpeter, now a world-class musician with nine recordings and countless U.S. tours and international appearances to his credit, is still filling music legends with awe.
Over the years, Farinacci has won numerous awards that speak to his wide ranging impact and appeal: the International New Star Award (along with Diana Krall and Christian McBride), the Disney New Star Award and first place honors in the Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Competition. He was also invited to perform at the O2 in London opening for Jamie Cullum and Jeff Beck. In January 2012, he was featured on an hour-long segment of NPR’s “Jazz Rising Stars.” Launching his recording career overseas with an incredibly prolific run of six albums from 2003-2008 on Japan’s Pony Canyon/M&I Records, the NYC based artist blossomed with the full throttle eclectic approach he took to Lovers, Tales and Dances, the first jazz recording produced by legendary three time Grammy winning pop/rock producer Russ Titelman (Eric Clapton, Randy Newman, Steve Winwood).
Aside from the Jones tune and two self-penned originals (including the perfectly titled “Vision”) the trumpeter fashioned fresh interpretations of pieces by Ornette Coleman (“Lonely Woman”), Ivan Lins (“Love Dance”), Puccini (“E Lucevan le Stelle”), Jacque Brel (“Ne Me Quitte Pas”), Billie Holiday (“Don’t Explain”) and a Bulgarian folk song (“Erghen Diado”). The critically acclaimed collection also included Oscar winning Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Bibo no Aozora” (which appeared in the film “Babel”) and a version of “Estate,” an Italian song penned in 1960 by Bruno Martino and Bruno Brighetti which became a worldwide jazz standard via its interpretation by Brazilian bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto. Diversifying even further, Farinacci performed “Libertango,” written by Argentine legend Astor Piazzolla.
“I remember hearing music from Argentina for the first time,” Farinacci says, “and even though I didn’t understand the lyrics, the beautiful melodies and soulfulness of the vocalists really hit me. I got the same feeling from this music as I did from Flamenco music from Spain – those beautiful heartbreaking & haunting voices. I’m drawn to melodies and rhythms in all kinds of music from around the world. I like to bring all those different influences into the music I play, tying everything together with strong arrangements for my ensemble both in the studio and in live performances. The common thread holding everything together even on an eclectic set like Lovers...is my attraction to beautiful, lyrical melodies and engaging grooves.
“I grew up listening to a lot of different music and was inspired equally by vocal legends like Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Sam Cooke, and jazz greats like trumpeter Clifford Brown, all of whom represented their own classic generation of American music,” he adds. “Then I had teachers who got me into South American music and early on I also started gravitating towards classical and film score music. Living my adult life so far in New York has been an endless journey in cultural exploration, and there is always so much to learn from different people. One of the greatest byproducts of performing my music throughout the world is the opportunity to hear music native to these places as well. I try to process all of these influences through the lens of American culture. Growing up playing trumpet in Cleveland, and then moving to New York, my goal as a musician and artist became to draw from all these inspirations.”
Fresh from 2012 performances in Spain, France and throughout the U.S., Farinacci is currently working on an EP follow-up to his last full-length album, the traditional leaning 2011 set Dawn of Goodbye. He is currently doing a music video for a currently untitled track with Flamenco and Tango influences that will be included on the project. Though it is still in development, Farinacci says the EP will include several original compositions in addition to popular songs and “something from a current film.”
While Farinacci tours the world frequently and is often immersed in the sounds of other cultures when he’s in different stages of development, his musical heart is always back home in Cleveland, where he created an innovative Music Outreach program at the Tommy Lipuma Creative Center for the Arts, a new state of the art educational facility that is home to the Tri-C JazzFest and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archives. One of his goals is to continue to develop and implement his new program around the region and further refine how music is presented to young people.
The outreach program’s concept is to bring in young up and coming artists from all genres and put them in front of students from Kindergarten through 12th grade in a close and intimate setting. “The idea,” Farinacci says, “is to let kids listen to and interact with young accomplished, exciting and charismatic artists who know how to relate to them. Instead of approaching it from a historical perspective, we’re helping establish a personal connection between the kids and the young artists, using that as an entry point to inspire and discuss music in more depth.” Some of the artists who have participated thus far are Kris Bowers (who has played with Aretha Franklin), Aaron Diehl, Jose James and Jonathan Batiste.
During high school, Farinacci attended a Saturday music program at Tri-C Community College, which taught him about playing in big bands, small groups, improvisation and music theory. When he was 17, the trumpeter performed at the Tri-C Jazzfest in Cleveland, opening for Wynton Marsalis and his big band. Informed by one of his band members about Farinacci’s playing, Marsalis invited him backstage to play for him after his concert. A few months later, Marsalis invited the young trumpeter to New York to perform as a special guest with him on a live PBS broadcast, “Live From Lincoln Center.” During this time, Farinacci heard about a brand new jazz program that was being initiated at The Juilliard School. He auditioned for the program and was accepted on a full four-year scholarship as one of only eighteen musicians selected worldwide to be in the inaugural class of the Juilliard Jazz Program.