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Art Farmer: Out of the Past

A trumpeter who always avoided bop cliches, Farmer intensified his lyricism through the late 1950s. His warm sound and his gifts for inventing melodies and getting deep inside harmonies made him a soloist a listener could identify after a few notes. By the time he recorded the two Argo LPs reissued on Out of the Past, he was one of the few players of any instrument who had internalized John Coltrane’s harmonic advances. Many players were transformed, some into clones, by Coltrane’s influence. Farmer incorporated the new harmonic thinking and used it to enhance his individuality.

Half of the tunes on the CD are from the 1960 LP called Art, half from Perception, recorded a year later. “Goodbye, Old Girl” is still a major achievement among Farmer’s ballad performances on record. His articulation, his phrasing, his intonation give it qualities of interpretation and emotion akin to those of a superb singer. Farmer’s improvisation consists only of a precisely placed run and a two-bar coda. All the rest is melody, with eight bars of piano by Tommy Flanagan, but the solo lingers in the mind. That is true of many of Farmer’s choruses here, including those on “Out of the Past,” one of Benny Golson’s most indelible melodies.

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Originally Published