JJ 12/61: Art Farmer – Farmer’s Market

In 1961 Humphrey Lyttelton, soon to present without demur the modernist Jazz 625, thought that Art Farmer and Miles Davis gave short measure. First published in Jazz Journal December 1961

331

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.

Discography
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.)