Trumpeter Farnell Newton’s latest release, Ready To Roll, has been on the radar since he released the jazzy lead single “Peace + Love” featuring Tony Ozier and Jarrod Lawson early in March. The smooth number hinted at the quality of the sounds that would feature on Ready To Roll, leaving little doubt that this album would be one to keep a look out for. With Ready To Roll now officially released, it comes as no surprise that the album comes full to the brim with healthy doses of funk, soul and jazz, as Newton has built a name for himself as an in-demand trumpeter within these genres.
Opening with the punchy title track, Ready To Roll gets the ball rolling with funk and acid jazz tones as it moves into the bass driven “Glimpse.” From here though, the mood slows down, as mellow soul and jazz take center stage beginning with the sultry “Make Me Yours,” which sees the luscious vocals of Ashley Jayy sweetly asking her would-be love to make her theirs. Her sweet voice is juxtaposed with the warmth of Newton's brass here as they play off each other to create a soulful love story. The soothing soundscape continues on the Donyea Goodman-assisted “You Gotta Move,” before the instrumental “Sweet Sauce” takes things in a jazz direction while evoking feelings of the joyful new beginnings that often come with spring.
A standout track comes mid-way through when the album switches gears again on “Softly,” which lives up to its name with its delicate acoustic guitar, subtle drumming and trumpet that create a story that is somehow melancholy and yet hopeful. Another standout follows with the album’s poignant lead single, “Peace + Love” coming in before Newton and company get back into the funk on the high energy “Stankie’s Revenge Part Doo” and “Dunk Funk,” the latter of the two featuring blistering guitar and a heavy horn section battling it out to create an intense number that has a strong cinematic feel to it.
“Congo Square” then pulls the affair into a Latin jazz territory, before the album closes out with strong note with “Human Race” featuring Cleveland P. Jones. “Human Race” poses the very pertinent question of what we, as the inhabitants of this world, are doing to each other and to the land, over calming percussion, keys, bass and, of course, Newton’s exquisite trumpet playing. Closing out with a song that gently reminds that love is the answer is quite fitting on an album that sonically explores the various highs and lows of life, while always remaining optimistic. Farnell Newton delves into the elements of life on Ready To Roll as effortlessly as he does into the many shades of jazz and soul to deliver a strong album that is vivid in color and rich in texture and, most importantly, won’t see you reaching for the skip or stop button.