Art Farmer “Modern Art” (1958)

Track Selection: “Mox Nix” (Farmer)  >

Artists:  – Art Farmer (t)  Benny Golson (ts) Bill Evans (p) Addison Farmer (b) Dave Bailey (d)  Recorded in 1958 by UA engineer Tommy Nola.

Farmer quick-bio: Arthur “Art” Farmer b. Iowa 21st  August 1928,  brother of bassist Addison Farmer. Formative years playing in big bands in ’40s and ’50s and LA , formed the excellent Jazztet with Benny Golson 1959-62. Final curtain fell  4th October 1999, age 71.

Music

Bop and more bop. The opening  track “Mox Nix” kicks off with an ironic “funky hand-jive  intro” which could be any of a thousand floor-fillers, but quickly picks up and swings its own way.The rest of the album maintains the style, and paved the way for the tighter and more disciplined performance of “Jazztet” the following year.

But who should turn up on piano? FFS Bill Evans! This is no place for huge romantic sweeping cascades of notes, or telepathic communication with the bass, Bill shows its not beneath him to swing too.

Like many bop players in the late Sixties and Seventies Art Farmer later moved to Europe, I assume to avoid being drawn into the commercially expedient soul jazz movement, whilst sidestepping the alternative direction of expressionist angst. This is happy music for uncomplicated enjoyment.

Vinyl Detail: Pressing, labels, run-out

First UK release in 1958 on London (LTZ-T 15167)  of United Artists UAL 4007 . Heavy vinyl on the familiar  London “American Jazz Recording” Red/Silver labels. Another fine pressing from Decca New Malden, engineer by the ever-dependable  Ron Mason, known to colleagues and collectors as “B” (Amazing what you can learn in a few minutes on the internet and then pass yourself of as an expert)

Collectors Notes

It appeared out of the blue in the New Arrivals section of a Soho record store, a one-off UK period original. I love new arrivals sections in record stores and I try to catch this one at least twice a week because its stock turns over so fast. Nothing worse than flipping three thousand titles to find the odd one you haven’t seen and dismissed before.

I already had an ’80s Japanese press on United Artists Victor which was “so so” (Ah so. Who say so, Ingreesh?)  but never pass up an original press in very good condition because (insert LJC standard rationalisation). Checking back with Goldmine I couldn’t find any other releases at the time, no stereo.  It looks like this got one US and one UK release in mono in 1958, and nothing for a few decades.

A great sounding records. I have loved Benny Golson’s playing since coming across him  on 4003 (which all collectors know to be Art Blakey’s stupendous Blue Note “Moanin’ “) . I subsequently collected all the Golson I could get hold of, including three or four records of The Jazztet. He is such a beautifully positive musician who delivers energetic satisfying bop or wistful memorable own composition ballads. Oh, and Art Farmer’s not bad either, sorry I got carried away. It’s Art’s record after all, but the two are inseparable.

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4 thoughts on “Art Farmer “Modern Art” (1958)

  1. I love Art Farmer’s style. In my opinion comparable to Freddie Hubbard and Thad Jones, but maybe I’m ruffling a few feathers by saying that. “Mox Nix” is a fab track to play during those once in a blue moon evenings when I DJ, ’cause it is very danceable. And hey, who didn’t know this: “Mox Nix” comes from the German idiom “macht nichts”. Often used by U.S. servicemen to mean “whatever” or “it doesn’t matter”. (Or as you said: “amazing what you can learn in a few minutes on the internet and then pass yourself off as an expert” 😀 )

  2. Art Farmer is one of my top ten jazz trumpeters (also fluglhorn).
    he’s got wonderful sound, great solos and this album have wonderful lineup.
    i wonder how different would be the LP … (i have the cd).
    cheers 🙂

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