Recent Listening: Art Farmer and Gigi Gryce
Art Farmer-Gigi Gryce Quintet: Complete 1954-1955 Prestige Recordings (Fresh Sound). In 1953, Farmer arrived in New York from California with Lionel Hampton's band, Gryce from his Fulbright studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honneger. The next year they began a two-year collaboration in a quintet that amalgamated their instrumental skills with approaches to form and harmony that eased away from the rigidities of bebop.
As fine as Gryce's soloing is here, it is Farmer's work that lingers in the mind, and not only for his celebrated melodic qualities. His command of the instrument and fiery blowing at fast tempos remind us what a complete trumpeter he was early in his career. His work on the quicksilver I Got Rhythm" variant called Deltitnu" is a prime example. Horace Silver does a fair amount of scene stealing with the forthright swing and humor of his piano solos. Freddie Redd and Duke Jordan are the other pianists; Percy Heath and Addison Farmer the bassists; Kenny Clarke, Art Taylor and Philly Joe Jones the bassists. In addition to their other attractions, six of the tracks benefit from the effortless keyboard touch and inventiveness that made Jordan the envy of other pianists.