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The Aztec Suite

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Album Review

One of the rarer LPs in Art Farmer's sizable discography is this 1959 studio date for United Artists, whose centerpiece is Chico O'Farrill's "The Aztec Suite." This long piece has its moments, particularly featuring the trumpeter and solos by unidentified sidemen (it is possible that the tenor saxophonist is Al Cohn, the conductor of the piece). In spite of the assurances of the uncredited liner notes author who states that "since its introduction, it has become a jazz classic," this suite sounds uneven and rather dated. It isn't clear if O'Farrill is also the arranger for the shorter tracks on the flip side of the record, though it is very likely. Unfortunately, excessive Latin percussion overwhelms Irving Berlin's "Heat Wave," while a normally terrific standard, "Alone Together," is rapidly faded at an odd moment. Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'n You" proves to be rather successful, however. Farmer's own solos tend to be rather brief. It's hard to consider this long unavailable disc to be an essential part of Art Farmer's career, but collectors who have a compulsive interest in collecting everything may want to hunt auction lists to track down a copy.


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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