[Rudy Van Gelder Remasters]
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2008, Volume 15, #4
Written by John Metzger
Sun April 20, 2008, 07:30 AM CDT
Art Farmer had been assimilating himself into both the Los Angeles and New York City jazz scenes for more than a decade when he finally was recognized as a rising star by Downbeat in 1958. In the preceding years, he had parlayed his stints with Wardell Gray, Lionel Hampton, and Horace Silver — as well as his collaborative efforts with Gigi Gryce — into a solid resume. In recording the November 1956 session that produced Farmer’s Market, the trumpeter constructed an ensemble around his bass-playing, twin brother Addison and saxophonist Hank Mobley, who also was an alumnus of Silver’s collective, as well as drummer Elvin Jones and pianist Kenny Drew, both of whom would later work with John Coltrane.
For the record, Farmer’s Market, especially in hindsight, is not an overwhelming set that immediately will sweep listeners off their feet. Indisputably, it is a fairly standard collection of hard bop songs that initially struggles to find its groove. The breezy swing of Drew’s With Prestige sounds more like a routine for warming up than a fully realized composition, and although the subsequent Drew-penned track Ad-Dis-Un fares better, Farmer’s ensemble never quite gets its arms around the tune.
It’s only upon closer examination, particularly during the latter four cuts of Farmer’s Market, that the blossoming greatness of the musicians can be heard. The title track is taken at a brisk pace, and Drew’s piano flights provide the sparks that spur the outfit to poke and prod at the melody, while Jones and Addison Farmer fuse drums and bass to form a crackling, rhythmic undercurrent. Mobley sits out on covers of Gryce’s Reminiscing and Arthur Schwartz’s By Myself, and Art Farmer takes advantage of the resulting spaciousness of both arrangements. He laces the former with sad reflection, while the latter song, which serves as the album’s highlight, boasts an intriguing exchange of ideas between him and Drew. Mobley returns with a vengeance on Farmer’s Market’s final cut Wailin’ with Hank, a pressure-cooked jam that certainly lives up to its title. Farmer, of course, went on to produce bigger and better albums, but Farmer’s Market provides positive proof that his formative years ought not to be overlooked. ½
Farmer's Market is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Other Rudy Van Gelder Remasters Releases
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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