Modern Art is the prelude recording for Art Farmer prior to his partnership with Benny Golson in the Jazztet, and also foreshadows the classy, tasteful inventiveness that group brought to the modern jazz world two years after this 1958 session. Pianist Bill Evans is in here, just before his pivotal work with Miles Davis on the classic album Kind of Blue, and was the table setter for McCoy Tyner's membership in the Jazztet. Brother Addison Farmer on bass and the great drummer Dave Bailey round out this sterling quintet that specializes in playing music with a subtle approach, which is neither tame nor conservatively lazy. Included on this date is the great Junior Mance tune "Jubilation," perfectly understated in a light gospel, soul-jazz, tuneful melody with both horns wonderfully matched up in balanced unison, side by side.
Some of the finer CTI recordings of the late '70s were those led by flugelhornist Art Farmer. Although the emphasis was generally on obscure material (in this case Farmer plays one original, two songs by Dave Grusin and one piece by pianist Fritz Pauer) and often featured musicians who did not normally play together, the results were generally quite rewarding. For this CTI LP (long out-of-print), the focus is almost entirely on Farmer who is joined by keyboardist Grusin, guitarist Eric Gale, flutist Jeremy Steig, either Will Lee or George Mraz on bass and drummer Steve Gadd. The moody music holds one's interest throughout.
Three of the five musicians on this quintet date (flügelhornist Art Farmer, altoist Frank Morgan, and pianist Lou Levy) had played on Central Avenue in Los Angeles of the late '40s. Not all of the eight songs that they perform with bassist Eric Von Essen and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath are from the era ("Blue Minor" and "Cool Struttin'" were written by Sonny Clark several years later), but the outing is very much in the bop style of the period. Their live set is highlighted by spirited versions of "Star Eyes," "Farmer's Market," "I Remember You," and "Donna Lee." This CD is filled with high-quality bebop that is easily recommended to straight-ahead jazz fans.
This is one of the better Art Farmer recordings of the 1980s, which is saying a great deal, for the flugelhornist is among the most consistent of all jazz musicians. The two ballads that open and close this set ("Blame It on My Youth" and "I'll Be Around") give Farmer an opportunity to display his warm and attractive sound (with fine support from pianist James Williams, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis), while the other five pieces (Benny Carter's "Summer Serenade" and more obscure material) add the great tenor saxophonist (and so-so soprano player) Clifford Jordan to the group. It's an enjoyable and very successful outing.
This 1970 club date in a Munich club by Art Farmer wasn't released until 1998, but it is by no means a collection of outtakes; it was in the possession of the club owner as his own private treasure. The flügelhornist (though he is inexplicably credited playing trumpet on the CD) is joined by his pianist of choice while in Europe, Fritz Pauer, along with bassist Peter Marshall and drummer Erich Bachtragl. Both Farmer and Pauer deliver consistently outstanding solos throughout the set, and what's unusual is that all of the tracks are originals by the leader. "Concord" and "Concourse" are both up-tempo cookers, while Marshall's fine solo introduces the bluesy "Overnight." While the piano is slightly buried in the mix, this otherwise excellent recording is very much a worthwhile investment for fans of hard bop.
During a career that spanned close to a half century, Art Farmer was well-known for his consistency as a soloist and a bandleader. This series of studio sessions from 1960, with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Tommy Williams, and drummer Albert Heathe, find the trumpeter in great form, with the usually impeccable accompaniment one expects from Flanagan. Many of the rich ballads featured, including "So Beats My Heart for You," "Goodbye Old Girl," and "Younger Than Springtime," have fallen out of favor in the early 21st century, but Farmer's impeccable performances of these chestnuts sound timeless. A slightly jaunty take of Benny Golson's "Out of the Past" and a spirited rendition of "The Best Thing for You Is Me" also merit attention.
One of the top hard bop contingents of the '50s and '60s, the Art Farmer and Benny Golson co-led group known as the Jazztet featured some of the best original charts and soloing of the entire era. While the group was only in existence between 1959-1962, its excellent reputation could rest on this stunning disc alone. Cut in 1960, the ten-track date features four of Golson's classic originals ("I Remember Clifford," "Blues March," "Park Avenue Petite," and "Killer Joe") and one very fetching Farmer-penned cut ("Mox Nix"). The rest of the standards-heavy mix is given the golden touch by the sextet. And what a combo this is – besides Farmer's svelte trumpet lines and Golson's frenetically vaporous tenor solos, one gets a chance to hear a young but already very accomplished McCoy Tyner, the tart and mercurial trombonist Curtis Fuller, and the streamlined rhythm tandem of Addison Farmer and Lex Humphries. An essential hard bop title.
The Jazztet had been in existence for two years when they recorded what would be their final LPs, Here and Now and Another Git Together. The personnel, other than the two co-leaders, flugelhornist Art Farmer and tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, had completely changed since 1960 but the group sound was the same. The 1962 version of the Jazztet included trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Roy McCurdy. It is remarkable to think that this talent-filled group wasn't, for some reason, snapped up to record even more albums together. Highlights of their excellent out-of-print LP include Ray Bryant's "Tonk," "Whisper Not," "Just in Time," and Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear." A classic if short-lived hard bop group.
This Art Farmer studio session from 1971 has a slight contemporary flavor to it, due to the addition of conga player James "Mtume" Forman and percussionist Warren Smith, Jr. to a core group of collaborators including Jimmy Heath, Cedar Walton, Sam Jones, and Billy Higgins. Unfortunately, the additional percussionists are too prominent in the mix, greatly distracting from the driving arrangements of Farmer's "Homecoming" and Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" as well as a peppy bossa nova, "Cascavelo." Far better are the quintet tracks, including the laid-back and mellow interpretation of Leonard Bernstein's ballad "Some Other Time," featuring the leader's matchless flügelhorn and Heath's soprano sax, and an upbeat chart of "Here's That Rainy Day." Another annoying problem is the seemingly out of tune piano, though Walton makes the best of a bad instrument. Not an essential album in the vast Farmer discography, but worth acquiring if found at a reasonable price, though it will be difficult.