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Art Farmer's New York Jazz Sextet

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Album Review

Art Farmer put together the New York Jazz Sextet in 1965 (not long after he had switched from trumpet to flügelhorn for good), featuring James Moody (tenor sax and flute), trombonist Tom McIntosh, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath. Their only release was Group Therapy, issued by Scepter, which was long out of print until Lone Hill Jazz reissued this valuable music in 2004, and with an added bonus: all of the mono takes are here, and they're different versions from the stereo masters. The primary focus of the CD is on original music, all arranged by the trombonist, starting with McIntosh's richly textured "Bottom on Top," a brilliant ballad feature for Moody's flute and the blend of horns. McIntosh is the primary focus of the tense "Supplication," though Flanagan's introspective solo will surprise his fans. Four of the numbers were written by either Dennis or Adolph Sandole, with whom Farmer had recorded a decade earlier, while Moody had studied with Dennis. Adolph's tense "Another Look" is a great hard bop vehicle with tight ensembles and superb solos. Dennis Sandole's "Dim After Day" is a warm yet complex ballad, while "Joy Shout" is as boisterous as its title suggests, combining elements of gospel and hard bop with a Caribbean rhythm. The one standard is a snappy take of Victor Herbert's "Indian Summer." Moody and Heath remain for a bossa nova arrangement of "Giant Steps" by singer Marie Volpee, with Patti Bown taking over the piano (though the instrument is in need of tuning) and Reggie Workman on bass. The wordless vocal makes this track sound a bit dated, though Moody's dancing flute solo is worth hearing. The mono versions follow on the second half of the CD, though the variations between them and the stereo masters are slight. Art Farmer fans will want to pick up this valuable reissue, especially since this represents the sole recording by this short-lived sextet.


Born: 21 August 1928 in Council Bluffs, IA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Largely overlooked during his formative years, Art Farmer's consistently inventive playing was more greatly appreciated as he continued to develop. Along with Clark Terry, Farmer helped to popularize the flügelhorn among brass players. His lyricism gave his bop-oriented style its own personality. Farmer studied piano, violin, and tuba before settling on trumpet. He worked in Los Angeles from 1945 on, performing regularly on Central Avenue and spending time in the bands of Johnny Otis, Jay McShann,...
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