Friday, May 01, 2015
Listening to Prestige Part 105: Art Farmer
And Art Farmer.
And all I can think, listening to this oddly forgotten session (released on a 10-inch and then buried, not included on any of the 7000-series Prestige releases of the 50 sort of brought out on the less-distributed New Jazz label in 1961, then not again until the 7600 reissue series in 1969, pretty much the end cycle for Prestige) is what a wonderful session this is. It's everything that makes me love jazz.
Art Farmer broke in with Wardell Gray on the session that introduced "Farmer's Market." He did the septet session with Quincy Jones arrangements for Prestige in the summer of 1953, then headed for Europe on the Lionel Hampton tour that produced a series of recordings. This was his first session back in the States, as a leader, and it should have been his breakthrough to jazz stardom, and maybe it was. He certainly was back in the studio a number of times in 1954.
Sonny Rollins was with him on this date, and Rollins is another of those everything that makes me love jazz guys.
If there's ever an artist whose name is synonymous with a jazz label, it's Horace Silver and Blue Note.
The session kicks off with "Wisteria," an achingly beautiful ballad (I believe an Art Farmer original) that has wonderful work by everyone, but perhaps especially Horace Silver. "Soft Shoe," again by Farmer (there's a Gerry Mulligan composition called "Soft Shoe," but it's different) picks up the tempo, with the boppish ensemble riffing and inspired soloing that presages Farmer's work with Benny Golson in the Jazztet.
"I'll Take Romance" was written by Ben Oakland (also known for the Ink Spots' great novelty "Java Jive"), with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. It's probably best known in the pop rendition by Eydie Gorme. There's a hipper version by June Christy, but Eydie did right by the song. Its cool passion and flowing lyricism make it a great choice for jazz improvisation, and it's been recorded by Max Roach, Bud Shank, Kenny Dorham, McCoy Tyner and others. It's a good way to end the set.
This is the second session to be recorded in Rudy Van Gelder's studio. I wonder if it was difficult to cajole musicians into trekking out to Hackensack in the middle of January. It certainly wouldn't have been difficult to get them to go a second time, once they'd heard the results.