The search is on... for missing transcriptions. Over the years, John transcribed hundreds of tunes, often as a one-off for a particular customer. Sadly, only around 200 of these scores have been recovered. The rest are scattered around the world, sitting on computers and music stands. One of these came to light recently - Society Blues - and a copy was sent here to add to the collection. If anyone out there has any of John's transcriptions which are not included on the current list, we would be eternally grateful to receive a copy.
It's not often that someone like John comes along. He was a remarkable man, a rare talent, and a true English eccentric. John dedicated his life to his music, his family and to his wonderful collection of friends around the world. He has left behind an extraodinary body of work which music lovers around the world will continue to enjoy for years to come.
This website is dedicated to his memory. Your comments are most welcome - if there is anything you would like to add to the site, please feel free to send an email.
Welcome, all music lovers. Those of you who knew John will already be aware of his extraordinary body of work. Not only was he an accomplished pianist, he was also an outstanding transcriber, arranger and composer. His passion for his pianola way back in the 1960s/70s was frustrated by the woeful lack of good jazz available as piano rolls, so he began to cut his own. In a world devoid of technology, he began by cutting them by hand, using a Stanley knife, sitting at the kitchen table. The rest, as they say, is history.
John's amazing jazz transcriptions are almost beyond comprehension. This was a talent that he himself was barely able to understand. That he is no longer here to transcribe on demand is an incalculable loss. In 2006, he took his granddaughter, Violet, (also an accomplished pianist, and at that time just 15), to see Oscar Peterson at the Royal Albert Hall in London for one of his rare, farewell concerts. She took a shine to a couple of the tunes. John arranged them for her and had the pdfs on the email to her the very next morning.
Something that John kept to himself was his talent as a composer. He composed music only when something moved him - the love of a good friend perhaps, or just to express himself more fully. His compositions are beautiful pieces of music, and will remain in the family's private collection.
When John moved from London to a village in the English countryside in the late '70s, he began to indulge his enormous passion for big band music, and set about transcribing some of the greatest music of that genre - Count Basie, Duke Ellington, you get the picture. Not content with that, he then formed an outstanding big band, attracting musicians from all around the region. The Open University, based in Milton Keynes, threw open the doors to its fantastic music facilities, including a huge converted chapel with brilliant acoustics, and John Farrell's big band went on the raise the roof for many years. He would put on big concerts in the village hall, just for one night, and people would arrive in droves. Those were fabulous evenings.
In time, I am hoping to collate some of the material recorded over all the years - the private, behind-the-scenes stuff, and put it onto this website. John deserves to be celebrated in all his non-conformist glory, and as his biggest fan in the entire universe, it is my honour to put this site together.
After a lifetime dedicated to jazz, John Farrell passed away after a sudden illness earlier this year. This website is devoted to his memory, and to the music he left for the world to enjoy. All proceeds from any sales of John's music go directly to his beloved widow, Mary.
An old snapshot, taken in the 60s by the looks of things, and featuring in the background his most hated of musical instruments, the banjo, coming in joint first place alongside accordions.