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January/February 1998

Art Farmer
Silk Road
Arabesque Recordings

Richly melodic but bold, Farmer's influential, distinctive approach is facilitated by his full-toned instrument-the flumpet, a cross between the trumpet and the fluegelhorn. Throughout this eight-tune set, he demonstrates that he is as adept at selecting material and personnel as he is at playing.

Ray Bryant's "Tonk" kicks things off in grooving fashion with an arrangement by pianist Geoff Keezer, whose expert ensemble writing seamlessy blends Farmer's horn with tenormen Ron Blake and Don Braden. While Farmer's airy approach is always refreshing, it particularly meshes with Keezer's "Ancient Evening," which enables him to melodically drift within the parameters of the relaxed waltz feel and open harmonies. Beautifully capturing the sentiment of its title, "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart" features a flumpet solo that gingerly stabs one moment and fluently soars the next. Things conclude with bassist Kenny Davis' "Coming Home," a slow but grooving blues with some spaciously melodic brasswork, a coy reference to "Rhapsody In Blue" by Braden, and a tasty bass solo. Rife with winning performances, Silk Road reflects the current state of one of jazz's best.

Originally published in January/February 1998
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