Art Farmer Quintet (1955) Prestige/UK Esquire


Selection: Evening in Casablanca (Gryce)

Lush romantic ballad from the  “Alone Together” school of late night listening.


Art Farmer (t) Gigi Gryce (as) Duke Jordan (p) Addison Farmer (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, October 21, 1955

Year: 1955

1955 Britain declares State of Emergency due to National Rail Strike. British Newspapers not printed for one month due to strike. With perfect timing, the first pocket transistor radios available, making it possible to catch up the latest news and cricket score on the move, though not on trains, which didn’t.

Music:  Moving forward a decade, the personal development and self-help psycho-babble in the Sixties counselled people to nurture their “inner child” – an appealing idea to one struggling with the transition to adult life.  I urge you instead, to unleash your inner grandfather. Somewhere in there, underneath that cool urban hipster exterior, is a friendly old man who has done growing up, is at peace with the world, freed from the urge to change it, instead, enjoying the simple pleasures in what limited time remains, from his armchair, pipe and slippers. Sod the whinny little me me me brat and let loose your inner grandfather. Exchange grown-up pressures for some moments of peaceful contentment.

And this is just the music to unleash grandpa. Gorgeous music, simply about where you place the notes. Farmer’s melodic sense is poignant and affecting, Gigi Gryce is eloquent and tasteful working the changes, a smooth perfect partnership, in their follow-up recording to When Farmer Met Gryce.  Duke Pearson adds the romantic colourings, while Art keeps it in the family with brother Addison on bass, all recorded in Rudy’s home studio. You can almost see the curtains. Savour a different time and place, music offering a refuge from the surrounding industrial turmoil, a haven of peace within reach of your armchair.


Vying for the title Worst Cover Ever – “Music for that Wild Party.” – mom ‘n’ dad dancing, bottles of exotic drinks from that early Mediterranean holiday before the era of long-haul. Graphic artist Disley  has grafted the legend “Afore ye go” – the slogan of Bells Scotch Whisky …… on to a port decanter. All typically British and hopeless.


Vinyl: UK Esquire  32-037 release of PRLP 7017 Art Farmer Quintet; 164 gm vinyl,

All is not as the Esquire cover suggests: the Prestige cover is an more honourable effort.

Handwritten RVG initials confirms the early provenance of the US Prestige metalwork.32-037-Farmer-Gryce-labels-1600

Note the 39/7 1/2d price on back cover, due to higher rate of 50% purchase tax  applying at this time, as LP’s were rated as “luxury items”, ensuring only the more wealthy could afford them. Good thinking.


Collectors Corner

Source: London Record store

Hipster Guide

Envy rating 2An unexpected find, always nice to come across surprises.

smug-index-2-Unlikely to see the Prestige original any time soon, and Esquire are always delightful strong pressings

cool-1Keeps regular time, swings pleasingly, lacks existentialist angst, absence of plink-plonk.

11 thoughts on “Art Farmer Quintet (1955) Prestige/UK Esquire

  1. Well this is an old favourite since forever – well at least 10 years. I would love to own an original in good shape. When Farmer met Gryce is equally nice 😉

  2. Completely new to this album and what a lovely surprise it is. I played your rip of ‘Evening In Casablanca’ two times, then remembered I still had a fresh Cohiba in the drinks cabinet, got it, lit up (with a cedar spill), put my feet back on the table and played it again. And again. And I’m listening to it as we speak. Still. Just listen to Farmer’s solo and hear how he rolls down the notes. You can almost see his fingers, busy on the valves. Gryce extends the relaxedness and then Jordan’s chilled out playing puts the icing on my cake.

    The recording reminds me a bit of Miles Davis’ rendition of ‘How Deep Is The Ocean’ on BLP-1501. Same magic, same tear jerking musical goodness. I’m afraid I now have to order this gem of an album on CD, since it’s the easiest way for me to lay hands on the rest of the music.

    And now it’s single malt time, gents. The Mrs is out and I have the house to myself 😉

    • Mattyman, did you empty the bottle? This magnificent album is as much, if not more, an album by Gigi Gryce, who composed 5 out of the 6 selections. This was to be Gigi’s last collaboration with Art farmer. He changed horses and Donald Byrd became his associate in the “Jazz Lab”, recording for Columbia, RCA and Riverside.
      For those interested in Gigi, I recommend “Rat Race Blues”, by Noal Cohen and Michael Fitzgerald, ed. Berkeley Hill Books, Berkeley, Calif.

      • Yes, Gigi Gryce is wonderful and perennially underrated in my opinion.

        He was a remarkable musician, Fulbright scholar emeritus and true composer in every sense having graduated from the Boston Conservatory and studied with the likes of Nadia Boulanger and Alan Hovhaness.

  3. I actually really like the Disley cover, but it’s totally inappropriate for this type of music. Difficult to think of anything less wild partyish. Bad art direction at fault I think, rather than the artist.

      • I’m a sucker for this sort of 50’s/60’s design, which I guess appeals to nostalgic longings and current fashion for ‘retro’. At any rate, it makes a change from bloody photoshop and image bank library covers.

    • the original 7017 had a nice sleeve by Don Schlitten. It must have been an option for Esquire, as was, e.g. Miles’ Cookin’, which they took, but not this one. The reason? Not costs, since paying a designer costs money. A service to a friend?
      At least they tried to do something and original it was, but appropriate? Not really. The worst example of unappropriateness is Disley’s design for Tenor Madness. But Barclay, who had the same lease agreement with Prestige for France made things even worse: their sleeve “design” for Tenor Madness is a photo of a tenor saxophone hanging on a ladder!

  4. LJC obviously is,not charmed by native British artwork. I do have PrLp 7017, but always missed out on this Esquire – Disley version, which, I think, is real fun. No doubt I will be considered to be corny!

    • Corny or not – it’s a nice example of jazz reception among the general public during the fifties. I tend to agree with LJC, although I have seen many a Prestige cover that was ugly in other ways, and there are some that I just don’t like – can’t say why. Just take 7007, or 7129…

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