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Jazz Sides

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Reviewed by Harvey Pekar, December 10, 2004, Music

The Complete Argo/Mercury Art Farmer/Benny Golson/ Jazztet Sessions


With the Jazz Messengers, the Jazztet was among the most important of the touring post-bop groups. Led by trumpeter/flugelhornist Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, the sextet recorded from 1960 to 1962. Its ranks included greats and near-greats: trombonists Curtis Fuller, Tom McIntosh, and Grachan Moncur; pianists McCoy Tyner and Cedar Walton; bassist Tommy Williams; and drummer Tootie Heath. The Jazztet's repertoire included excellent originals, many by Golson, one of the most important and innovative composer-arrangers of the Fifties. In this 7-CD box are his "I Remember Clifford," "Blues March," "Killer Joe," "Five Spot After Dark," "Whisper Not," and "Along Came Betty." Other laudable pieces are supplied by Randy Weston, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ray Bryant. Jazztet arrangements were full of varied and colorful voicings, one of the best small jazz groups in this respect. In addition to Jazztet tracks on this collection, there are two quartet recordings apiece by Farmer and Golson, a big band session by Farmer, with an assist by Oliver Nelson, and small and medium-sized groups by Golson. Dig pianist Tommy Flanagan's exquisite work with the Farmer and Golson quartets. The whole set is loaded with top solos. Farmer was among the most original trumpet stylists to emerge with the advent of bop. He had a tart tone, employed unusual intervals, and had quite a unique rhythmic sense, featuring clipped phrasing. Golson's style was originally drawn from Don Byas and Lucky Thompson, but also included the influences of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. He had a big tone and an inexhaustible supply of ideas. The solo contributions of Tyner, Walton, Fuller, and McIntosh also impress. The unsung hero is Tommy Williams, of whom Golson said, "I hated to follow bass solos after Tom joined the band, because he could put horn players to shame." (This box can only be obtained directly from Mosaic Records, 35 Melrose Place, Stamford, Ct. 06902, 203/327-7111.)


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