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Art Farmer: Yesterday’s Thoughts

The 441 label has just launched a promising new reissue spinoff, Test of Time. The purpose is to make recordings of the Japanese Eastwind label available in the U.S. on CD for the first time, with DSD remastering.

Jazz fans who were buying records in the 1970s will remember Eastwind LPs, with their cool covers and superior sound. Most were recorded by the late David Baker, who in the mid-’70s had a very neutral, purist approach to recording, probably with less complex miking than he would use later in his career. The sound of Yesterday’s Thoughts, the first of several planned Art Farmer reissues, is squeaky-clean but somewhat recessed, especially on Billy Higgins’ drums.

The other players are Cedar Walton and Sam Jones. With such personnel, surpassing competence is a given. But this album is more. The group is allowed to stretch out and dig deep (“What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” and “Alone Together” approach 10 minutes each). Farmer’s flugelhorn is not only flawlessly, elegantly lyrical but often blown off center by the fires of inspiration. Yesterday’s Thoughts contains some of his finest recorded work.

Originally Published