Friday, March 14, 2008

The Complete Mercury Art Farmer/Benny Golson/Jazztet (Mosaic, 2007)

There is an amusing story in the liner notes to this wonderful boxed set about how trumpeter and flugelhornist Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson were both planning to form bands in the mid to late 1950's only to find out that each was planning to ask the other to join their respective bands. Wisely joining forces under the collective name of The Jazztet, they made enough music during a remarkable three year run (1960-1962) to be collected here in a mammoth seven disc set. Throughout this set they are accompanied by a fine set of supporting musicians including McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton and Tommy Flanagan on piano, Curtis Fuller on trombone and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums. Farmer and especially Golson were remarkable composers, as well as players and classic compositions abound like Golson's exemplary trio of originals "Blues March," "I Remember Clifford" and "Killer Joe" which made their first album Meet the Jazztet such a revelation. The entirety of that album is included here as well as the albums recorded by the collective during this period and a smattering of solo music recorded by Farmer and Golson. Fans of hard bop will adore all of the music found here, a treasure trove of classic mainstream jazz with up-tempo cookers, blues and ballads in abundance. Mosaic is known for its lavish packaging, and there is a lengthy booklet filled with notes, discographical information and great photos. Those new to this great band may wish to dip their toe in the water by buying their classic first LP, but those with deep enough pockets simply can't go wrong with this wonderful package.

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