Art Farmer

Jazz Casual: Art Farmer & Jim Hall

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The Art Farmer Quartet, featuring Jim Hall, is sensational throughout its performance on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual television series; including Steve Swallow (playing acoustic bass a few years prior to his switch to electric bass later in the decade) and drummer Walter Perkins, the group covers a lot of familiar ground for those who own its recordings. The blend of Farmer's warm, mellow sound on his instrument and Hall's single-note lines and choice of chords are a match made in heaven. Following a lyrical up-tempo arrangement of "Change Partners," Gleason's interview of his guest starts off a bit silly ("What is that instrument?"), but he ends up getting Farmer to explain the reasons behind his switch to fl├╝gelhorn, his deliberate omission of the piano (because he wanted Hall's brilliant guitar playing heard), and his preference for melodic songs. Other bonuses: Farmer introduces all of the remaining songs at once following the interview, and Gleason's typical closing comments are omitted, resulting in a greater amount of music (24-plus minutes) in this program than many of the shows in the series. "Some Time Ago" is a lovely yet obscure piece that surprisingly didn't catch on with other jazz musicians; it deserves to become a standard. Perkins' brushwork and Hall's tantalizing chords support the gorgeous lines of the leader. Farmer and Hall show off their incredible interplay in a mid-tempo version of "My Kinda Love." The Latin-flavored "My Little Suede Shoes" has a slightly different twist than Charlie Parker's original conception; an extensive and creative percussion solo by Perkins is its highlight. The master videotape that served as the source for this VHS release suffers from some sound distortion, which was probably present for the original broadcast, since this delicately balanced group might be tough to engineer for someone not familiar with its sound. Since Art Farmer and Jim Hall's discography together is (sadly) rather limited, this video will be an essential addition to the library of any fan of their work together.

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