BROCHURE 56 AUGUST 2004
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"The three years of music in this collection represent one peak in two exceptional jazz careers. Art Farmer enjoyed, and Benny Golson still enjoys, varied and lengthy lives as musicians, with several triumphs as soloists and, in Golson’s case, composer/arranger. As a team, they left a recorded trail of their collaborations that spans four decades, yet the pinnacle of that association was clearly the sextet they co-led under the name the Jazztet. " - Bob Blumenthal, liner notes
The singular partnership of Art Farmer and Benny Golson.
Navigators use triangulation to find location – you learn the position of known objects, find the point where lines drawn from each point intersect, and use that information to derive the position of the target.
Well, you can use the same method to locate jazz in the early 1960s. It rests squarely at the intersection of the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet, with charter member Curtis Fuller.
The co-leaders benefited from personal exposure to the earliest beboppers. Gave voice to their great love for the blues. Enjoyed regular employment among the hard boppers of New York. In fact, there wasn’t anything these guys missed. In addition to being at the center of an organization that synthesized the major themes and emerging traditions in jazz into something wholly new and original, trumpeter Farmer and saxophonist Golson also had in their small group a singular showcase for Golson’s inspired writing.
Now, for the first time anywhere, all of their material for Argo and Mercury – including everything each man chaired alone through that period – has been compiled in one set that documents the brilliant but brief life of this extraordinary group.
It’s a big set, but at Mosaic we feel it’s one of the best examples we can think of to show what collaboration in art can yield thanks to the richness of Golson’s writing and the unfailing quality of the solos.
Destined for one another.
A weave of interlocking relationships preceded the formation of the Jazztet. Golson and Farmer knew each other as early as 1953 when they both worked in Lionel Hampton’s big band. But it wasn’t until the late 1950s that they started recording together in various contexts. Notable was a 1958 date backing Abbey Lincoln, with future Jazztet member Curtis Fuller present as well. Around the same time, trombonist Fuller and Golson began recording together. And then there was the Art Farmer tentet with Curtis Fuller, which Golson arranged, but on which he does not appear!
They finally debuted as the Jazztet in New York in late 1959, and recorded for the first time just a few months later. Golson remembered the inevitable teaming up in a downbeat interview that same year: “I was planning to start a sextet. . . and I heard Art was leaving Gerry Mulligan. I planned to ask him to join. . . unknown to me, he was planning a quintet, and he was thinking of asking me to join him. When I called him, he started laughing.”
Golson’s quintet already contained Fuller, who actually dubbed them the Jazztet. His is the other distinctive voice in the group, and while he left within months (to be replaced by Tom McIntosh, then Grachan Moncur III), he left a lasting impression on the group.
Early stardom as a composer.
Golson, as a composer and arranger, had already made a name for himself, dating back to 1955 when James Moody and Miles Davis recorded pieces he wrote. Then there was “I Remember Clifford,” an instant hit and eventual classic, recorded a year later with Dizzy Gillespie.
But it was Art Farmer that Golson achieved a rare simpatico. The writing was so tailored for their unique trumpet/saxophone/trombone front line, and structured for their individual playing styles, that it’s hard to imagine his charts for the Jazztet being played by anyone else. The way Golson laid out arrangements and voiced harmonies, you have to remind yourself at times there aren’t more horns playing. And the musical content is never hackneyed or tame. Whether the band was playing a Golson original or a standard you’ve heard a hundred times, Golson’s take on it didn’t just force you to listen, it made you want to hear it again as soon as the tune ended so you could catch all you missed.
And when either man took off on a solo? Sheer heaven. Golson’s runs remind you of Ben Webster’s playing for their quiet confidence. He played with elegance, but without sacrificing the element of surprise. And Art Farmer had a storytelling quality reminiscent of Lester Young’s. Wynton Marsalis uses the word “selected” to describe how Farmer sequenced notes. There was nothing overly planned, nor was he haphazard. And his tone was remarkable. It’s not easy to put into words what was different from other players when Farmer’s lips touched the mouthpiece. But there was something going on in the way he made contact that produced a sound more expressive, more loving.
Exceptional music to savor.
The seven CDs in Mosaic’s set include not only all the Jazztet recordings from 1960 to 1962, but concurrent sessions led by Golson or Farmer that rank among their greatest recordings– quartets, a Golson tentet and an Art Farmer Orchestra date. Key sidemen include Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter, Arthur Taylor, McCoy Tyner, Albert “Tootie” Heath, and many, many others.
There is so much exceptional music to savor in this collection, you’ll be busy and satisfied a long time.
Our exclusive booklet includes an essay and track-by-track analysis by Bob Blumenthal, a complete discography of this set, and rare photographs by from the actual sessions by Chuck Stewart.