Farmer, Art - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note 6 x CD box set
"Art Farmer was an American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player. In the 1950s, he performed and recorded with musicians such as Horace Silver and Sonny Rollins. As his reputation grew, he expanded into more experimental forms through working with composers such as George Russell. His playing is known for its lyricism, warmth of tone and sensitivity. Art Farmer - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note features six albums in slipcases with original album artwork, housed in a sturdy box. The set includes the albums Isis, Manhattan, Mirage, Moment To Moment, You Make Me Smile and Azure."
"Art Farmer is perhaps best known as co-leader of The Jazztet (with Benny Golson) in the late 1950's/early 60's. If you haven't heard this band, all their music has been reissued as a complete set, and is well worth hearing. Farmer's sound on both the trumpet and the flugelhorn leans toward the softer side of things, but his bebop chops were always sharp. On albums as a sideman or under his own name he could always be counted on to bring the music up a few notches with his fine playing. This set is another in the on-going series from the Black Saint/Soul Note labels."
""Isis" (1981), has Farmer playing as a foil with Enrico Pieranunzi's piano and Italian group. This album is basically up-dated bebop. This same album can also be found on a box set in this series by Pieranunzi. The album as a whole is very good, with Farmer blowing some fine licks on the flugelhorn throughout the album. The piano is sometimes reminiscent of Herbie Hancock's sound (listen to "Ah-Leu-Cha"), and Farmer sounds at home in this band. Massimo Urbani's alto sax is a good fit with Farmer. His solos alongside Farmer make for a great sound on the three tracks ("Isis", "Blue 'N' Boogie", and "Soul Dance") where he plays.
"Manhattan" (1981), is a quintet with the underrated Sahib Shibab on soprano and baritone saxes, Kenny Drew-piano (a personal favorite), and a great rhythm section of Mads Vinding-bass, and Ed Thigpen-drums. Another fine set of tunes, one by the jazz pianist Horace Parlan (a good blues based player), Drew (with two tunes), and a Charlie Parker tune. On this album Farmer is in his element. The playing is top notch across the board, helped by the original tunes from both Parlan and Drew. A good set of post-bebop.
"Mirage" (1982), is yet another good quintet date. This time including Clifford Jordan-tenor sax, the underrated Fred Hersch-piano, Ray Drummond-bass, and Akira Tana-drums. Hersch is a particularly good foil for Farmer (especially) and Jordan. Listen to "Barbados", "My Kind Of Love", and the title track for a good idea of just how good this band sounds. Easily equal to "Manhattan". A similar album, "You Make Me Smile" (1984) is a familiar sounding quintet made up of Farmer, Jordan, Hersch, Rufus Reid-bass, and Akira Tana-drums. If you like what you heard on "Mirage" you'll like this set too. Farmer seems to settle in quite well in groups of this size and instrumentation. Listen to "Have You Met Miss Jones?", "Nostalgia", and "Souvenir".
"Moment To Moment" (1983), is the reformed Jazztet (with slightly different personnel), featuring Farmer, Benny Golson-tenor sax, Curtis Fuller-trombone, Mickey Tucker-piano, Ray Drummond-bass, and "Tootie" Heath-drums. Playing in a similar fashion as the original band, all six tunes (five written by Golson) are played well enough, but it seems to lack some of the feel of the original band--a bit formulaic. Nonetheless, this is still an enjoyable set of reconstituted bebop.
"Azure" (1987), is a duo set of Farmer and Fritz Pauer-piano. Farmer is heard on flugelhorn along with Pauer, who is adept at filling in the spaces in the music with his sympathetic (to Farmer) piano. But (at least to my ears--you may hear things differently) the music at times seems a bit off the mark. For me, Farmer is at his best in a quartet/quintet situation, with a straightforward rhythm section. And for me that's what's lacking here. Saying that, Farmer's horn sounds beautiful throughout. But the arrangements don't seem to really breathe and come alive. In the end, enjoyable but a lesser album compared to the other sets here. But as I've said before when it comes to hearing/enjoying music--to each his own. It's interesting that the credits read "Art Farmer-flugelhorn/ Fritz Pauer-bass". Bass? Oops."-Stuart Jefferson
- LabelBlack Saint