November 6th: The Crossover Artist

6 Nov

Portland State Music: 30 for the 30th

Name:Farnell Newton

Instrument: trumpet

Student of  Charley Gray, Dave Bamonte

M.M.-2010 Portland State University

Putting Music Forward

When asked about the prickly topic of genres in music, Duke Ellington is credited with stating “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind”  That might serve as a fair motto for trumpeter/producer/educator Farnell Newton.  Whether it is straight ahead jazz, smooth jazz, Latin music, soul, hip hop, or whatever else, Farnell is out to make good music.  Willamette Week says that “Farnell Newton has his hands on just about everything cool and funky happening in Portland.  His name on the bill serves as a seal of freshness.” ___________________________________________________________

Putting Skills to Work

One of the elements that contributes to Portland’s vibrant musical community is a cadre of musicians of national stature who maintain a strong presence at home.  Farnell balances touring, recording, and performing with artists like smooth jazz saxophonist Mike Phillips, the DooDooFunk All-Stars, & the BET/CENTRIC Soul Train Award All-Star Band;with his own musical projects and his role as a first-call trumpeter for latin and jazz gigs in Portland.  Along the way he has performed with musical artists like Lalah Hathaway, Ron Isley, R. Kelly, Cee Lo Green, Fantasia, Gladys Knight,Chaka Khan, Najee, Bootsy Collins, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind and Fire.

In addition, Farnell is adjunct professor of jazz trumpet at Portland State, where he also directs the Latin music ensemble.  His PDX Jazz Project, an organization for youth ages 13 to 18, is designed to preserve & forward the history of jazz music through performance, education and community events.

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Adding Something Unique

In 2005 Farnell formed FNMUSICWEB, a Portland-based record label  that supports music by new and unique artists from diverse genres, including jazz.  Through FNMUSICWEB Farnell  hopes to serve the needs of new artists who have talent but need professional expertise in planning, promotion, publicity, and creating great recordings. FNMUSICWEB releases include the re-release of Sense of Direction, Farnell’s critcally acclaimed quintet CD with pianist Marcus Reynolds, and his 2012 solo project Class Is Now In Session, which is inspired by hip-hop, soul, and jazz, and highlights Farnell”s love of diverse genres and ability to blend musical styles.

Most recently FNMUSICWEB has started producing a series of local performances, including the “Cool Jazz & Hot Soul”  and “Ladies of Jazz” series and is working on developing a small jazz festival in the heart of Portland. He also parlays his technological expertise into designing websites for organizations like the Portland  jazz venue Jimmy Maks.

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What Has Your PSU Music Experience Meant to You?

“I’m grateful for PSU because it not only taught me how to be a better musician but also how to be a great activist and member of the art community of Portland and beyond.”


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