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

The Jazztet was one of the better bands going in the early ’60s, and the six LPs it made for Argo and Mercury sound better with each passing year. The featured members were tenor saxophonist Benny Golson and trumpeter/flugelhornist Art Farmer, and though trombonist Curtis Fuller is remembered as the third horn he only appeared on the first record. The fine but all-but-forgotten Tom McIntosh held the trombone chair for the next three LPs, and Grachan Moncur III occupied it on the last two.

The Jazztet’s style, broadly speaking, is hard bop, but the band depended on arranged ensemble passages more than most small groups of the period, avoided long solos and found other ways to reach out toward the general public without compromising its music. Golson, of course, has long been celebrated as one his generation’s major composers, and the group recorded versions of several of his best-known tunes, from “I Remember Clifford” and “Whisper Not” to “Blues March” (though for some reason later records featured fewer Golson originals). The excellent The Jazztet & John Lewis was dedicated to that composer (the arrangement of “Django” here will be a revelation to listeners used to standard versions), but on the other LPs the group generally favored a mix of standards and jazz tunes from a variety of sources both within the band (Moncur, Farmer, McIntosh) and from without (Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson, Randy Weston).

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