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The Meaning Of Art

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Album Review

Webster's Dictionary would define the meaning of Art Farmer as "a cool, swinging, mainstream, jazz trumpeter and bandleader," but that only partially describes what Farmer does on this CD. His approach is a democratic one — solos to his bandmates, doled out liberally, are concise. Melodic intent is utmost in his mind, and swinging is a prerequisite, not a duty. Trombonist Slide Hampton is an equal partner during the entire set, whether as an ensemble player, soloist, composer, or arranger, and pianist Geoff Keezer kicks everything up a notch, especially when he is featured. Saxophonist Ron Blake, bassist Kenny Davis, and drummer Carl Allen give great support without flash. The two most up-tempo numbers are the frantic "Johnny One Note," (Keezer is livid with passion in modal and latin frames), and the Hampton-penned bopper "Lift Your Spirit High," which typifies this set, ostensibly, as a jam session. Head follows a succession of solos consistently throughout the seven selections. A slight similarity to "Daahoud" informs the melody of Hampton's "On the Plane," with everybody soloing. A relaxed and reserved swing typical of Farmer identifies "Just the Way You Look Tonight," while a loping melody leads to solos ad hoc in extensia for the ten-and-a-half-minute Keezer composition, "Free Verse," which finds Blake switching from his usually lurid, sweet tenor, to a more edgy soprano saxophone. There's a certain urgency to Benny Golson's ballad "One Day Forever," and this is where Farmer shines — his round, distinct trumpet sounds clear as a bell, against Keezer's piano, nodding in approval. The most singing melody has Farmer and Hampton in melodic unison for Fritz Pauer's "Home," an easy, bluesy, swinger. This is jazz that is relatively cliché and quote-free; not groundbreaking, but a consistent, professional effort. The release is a testimony to Farmer's endurance as one of the truly great jazz musicians of the late 1900s. Recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


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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