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Benny Golson: The Whisper Not Tour

It could be argued that this DVD is worth having for sentimental reasons alone, since it captures trumpeter Art Farmer’s last concert engagement with saxophonist Benny Golson and trombonist Curtis Fuller, fellow founders of the Jazztet. If that’s not enough to cinch the deal, then listening to Farmer soulfully interpret “I Remember Clifford” in the company of Golson, Fuller, vocalist Jon Hendricks, keyboardist Geoff Keezer, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Joe Farnsworth should do the trick.

Of course, the leader of this ensemble, recorded at Jazz Fest Berlin, has his moments, too. With a program that features several Golson-penned standards, the concert consistently benefits from his fluid tone and harmonic wherewithal. Then there’s Fuller’s contributions to consider. As the performance unfolds, he can always be counted on to warmly temper the mood, or to enliven it. Hendricks, in top hat and electric-blue sport coat, no less, is in typically spirited form, singing his own lyrics and scatting often, though he also helps sustain a dreamy rendition of “Out of the Past.” After elegantly enhancing that performance, Keezer and his rhythm-section-mates propel “Blues March” in ways that generate both martial cadences and hard-bop momentum. (Unfortunately, it becomes obvious early on that Burno’s bass is projecting a thin, unwoody tone, for whatever reason.)

Bonus features include three album tracks-“Killer Joe,” “The Sidewinder” and “My Favorite Things”-plus video of Golson’s ensemble performing “Whisper Not” at the Skopje Jazz Festival, though this time it’s the always welcome Brian Lynch on trumpet.

Originally Published