Joe Farrell
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Joe Farrell

Joe Farrell
JoeFarrell 1985.jpg
Joe Farrell performing at Lush Life in New York City, 1985
Background information
Joseph Carl Firrantello
Born (1937-12-16)December 16, 1937
Origin Chicago Heights, Illinois, United States
Died January 10, 1986(1986-01-10) (aged 48)
City of Hope National Medical Center, California
Genres Jazz, jazz funk, fusion, hard bop
Musician, composer, bandleader
Instruments Tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, English horn
Labels CTI
Elvin Jones Trio
Return to Forever
Flora Purim
Fuse One

Joseph Carl Firrantello (December 16, 1937 - January 10, 1986),[1] known as Joe Farrell, was an American jazz saxophonist and flautist. He is best known for a series of albums under his own name on the CTI record label and for playing in the initial incarnation of Chick Corea's Return to Forever.


Farrell was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, United States.[2]

He joined the Ralph Marterie band in 1957 and later played with Maynard Ferguson and The Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra. He also recorded with Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard, Players Association and Elvin Jones. After the death of John Coltrane, Elvin Jones formed a pianoless trio with Jimmy Garrison and Farrell, recording two albums for Blue Note in 1968.

In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Farrell performed with Chick Corea and Return to Forever. He is the flutist in Corea's most famous work "Spain," which is considered to be a modern jazz standard.

He did numerous sessions and contributed a flute solo to Aretha Franklin's 1973 hit "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)". The Santana track "When I Look into Your Eyes" from Welcome also includes solo work from Farrell. Farrell was prominently featured on the Hall & Oates recording Abandoned Luncheonette which featured both tenor saxophone and oboe solos from Farrell. His tenor saxophone solo on the recording of AWB - the Average White Band's Pick Up The Pieces is one of the most memorable tenor solos in all of rock and roll history.

Farrell recorded Flute Talk with Sam Most in 1979 which was billed as a duet of the world's two greatest Jazz flutists.

Farrell performs with Brazilian percussionist Airto and Airto's wife Flora Purim on the album Three-Way Mirror. A message on the CD jacket dedicates the 1987 album to Farrell and states it contains his final recordings.

Farrell died of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in Los Angeles, California on January 10, 1986 at the age of 48.[3]

In 2008, Farrell's daughter Kathleen Firrantello filed a lawsuit against rappers Kanye West, Method Man, Redman and Common, and their record labels for allegedly using portions of Farrell's 1974 musical composition "Upon This Rock" in their songs without approval. Firrantello was seeking punitive damages of at least US$1 million and asked that no further copies of the songs be made, sold or performed.[4][5]


As leader

As sideman

With Mose Allison

With Patti Austin

With Average White Band

With The Band

With Ray Barreto

  • La Cuna

With the Bee Gees

With George Benson

With Willie Bobo

With Frank Butler

With Jaki Byard

With Billy Cobham

With Chick Corea/Return to Forever

With Lou Donaldson

With Maynard Ferguson

With Aretha Franklin

With Fuse One

  • Fuse One (1980)

With Grant Green

With Urbie Green

With Bobby Hackett

With Slide Hampton

With Andrew Hill

With Johnny Hodges

With Jackie and Roy

With Antnio Carlos Jobim

With Elvin Jones

With The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

With Rufus Jones

With Lee Konitz

With John Larkin

  • John Larkin (1986)

With The Jeff Lorber Fusion

With Arif Mardin

With Pat Martino

With Jack McDuff

With Charles Mingus

With Mingus Dynasty

With Blue Mitchell

With James Moody

With Airto Moreira

With Laura Nyro

With Dizzy Reece

With the Santana

With Lalo Schifrin

With Don Sebesky

With Dakota Staton

With Bobby Timmons


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 195. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "Biography". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  3. ^ "Biography". NME. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ "Rappers sued over samples". The Sydney Morning Herald. May 23, 2008. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ "Four rappers sued by jazzman's daughter". The Gazette. May 23, 2008. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved 2009. 

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