This sort of record is the reviewer’s nightmare. The themes are attractive but slender. The structure is flimsy, consisting of track after track of long improvisations sandwiched between opening and closing ensembles. The soloists are all gifted and competent. They play with great imagination and impeccable taste.
One takes it that they are enthusiastic, otherwise they wouldn’t bother to make so many records. If they have fire in their bellies, it is studiously concealed from the listener, who is encouraged to think that such things as emotion, climax and excitement are too old-fashioned and vulgar to mention.
It is bandied about in modernist circles that Art Farmer is an excellent trumpet-player, with which I concur. But I feel about this as I feel about so many Miles Davis performances. To hear men of vast talent churning out these rambling soliloquies with the minimum amount of collaboration and interplay between the horns is like watching giants building sandcastles.
Compared with such relatively unsophisticated recordings as Armstrong’s “Potato Head Blues” or Hawkins’s “Body And Soul”, which were masterpieces of construction within the old 78 limitations, these modern marathons seem to me pretty slender architecture.
With Prestige; Ad-Dis Un; Farmer’s Market (18 min) – Reminiscing; By Myself; Wailin’ With Hank (20 min)
Art Farmer (tpt); Hank Mobley (ten); Kenny Drew (p); Addison Farmer (bs); Elvin Jones (d). 23/11/56.
(Esquire 32-137 12inLP 41s.)