Art Farmer Quartet

Perception

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This 1964 release of a 1961 date with pianist Harold Mabern, drummer Ron McCurdy, and bassist Tommy Williams is a breezy affair, a stark contrast to the hard bop that was still pervasive at that time. Farmer had fully developed his sensual and lyrical style by this time, and was making records with Benny Golson when he led this date. The set features two fine originals, which are notable because Farmer didn't compose much: the elegant and spring-like "Punsu" and "Kayin," a breezy West Coast affair. Farmer had given up the trumpet completely by this time and concentrated all of his efforts on the fl├╝gelhorn. Its large, warm tone and rounded sound fit perfectly with Farmer's penchant for the exploration of melodic modes within a given tune. On "Lullaby of the Leaves," Farmer's lead into the melody prefigures his solo by moving both off key and off beat to shape a large conical center in the tune. On Ray Bryant's "Tonk," Farmer swings out of the blues and into a shimmering solo all around a triplet figure in B flat. Mabern does far more than comp his way through the changes here, extending his chord voicings to let Farmer fall inside the cracks and nest. This is a gorgeous record, full of light and airiness; it showcases the depth rather than the breadth of Farmer's contribution.

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