Art Farmer - Benny Golson - Montreal 1987

Art Farmer - Benny Golson Jazztet - A collaboration for the ages.

Art Farmer Benny Golson Jazztet – International Jazz Festival, Montreal – 1987 – Past Daily Downbeat.

Art Farmer - Benny Golson - Montreal 1987
Art Farmer – Benny Golson Jazztet – A collaboration for the ages.

Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet – Live at Théatre St-Denis, International Jazz Festival, Montreal – June 28, 1987 – Radio Canada – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Historic collaborations this weekend. The Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet live at the International Jazz Festival on Montreal on June 28,1987 and preserved for posterity by Radio Canada International.

The Jazztet was co-founded by trumpet and flugelhorn player Art Farmer and saxophonist Benny Golson in 1959. They had first played together in 1953, but soon separated – Farmer then recorded under his own name and was a sideman for several leaders, while Golson composed and played for various bands.The two collaborated on Farmer’s quintet recording, Modern Art, in 1958, and the 10-piece Brass Shout the following year, after both had signed to United Artists Records. Golson reported that he wanted to form a sextet, because “there were so many quintets around, and I wanted to hear one more voice in the band. When I called Art with the idea, he just started laughing, because he was ready to leave Gerry Mulligan and had been about to call me to be the tenor saxophonist in his new sextet.” The pair decided to choose two additional members each; Farmer selected Addison Farmer (bass) and Dave Bailey (drums), and Golson picked Curtis Fuller (trombone), and McCoy Tyner (piano).All agreed to join, so these six formed the original sextet.The band’s manager was Kay Norton, a United Artists executive.

Bailey stated that the band name was created by himself and Fuller; Golson credited Fuller alone, and said that he asked the trombonist if the name could be used, after it had been used on Fuller’s The Curtis Fuller Jazztet, which was recorded in August 1959. The name “Jazztet” had, however, been used at least as early as 1949, for a band led by Eddie Woodland in the New Jersey–Maryland area.

The Jazztet’s first public performance was on November 10, 1959, at the Village Note in Washington, D.C. Their first appearance in New York was at the Five Spot on November 17. A later New York appearance, at the Town Hall on November 28, was well received, with The New York Times’ critic John S. Wilson writing that, although the soloists were “unusually good”, “it is the ensemble feeling of the group that is its strongest point, for Mr. Golson’s arrangements constantly offer the soloists a kind of close, intimate support that has all but disappeared from small group jazz”.

Their New York debut was shared with Ornette Coleman and other players of a more radical style than their own. Farmer felt that the band suffered from being co-billed with Coleman, who attracted more press attention: “compared to what Ornette was doing, what we were doing […] was more conventional. It just didn’t seem to be as adventurous, stepping out into the unknown like what Ornette was doing. Ornette got more notice than we did. I don’t think we ever recovered from that.”

The band eventually broke up later in 1962, for a combination of reasons. The leaders felt the project was time-consuming, with frequent rehearsals required to integrate new members unfamiliar with their difficult material. Farmer stated that “we were spending more time rehearsing what we had done than moving ahead. Benny felt like he would like to stay in New York, and do more writing and get involved with various other things than just working with the Jazztet on the road and writing for the Jazztet”. Golson reported that each of the leaders “wanted to go in a different direction, and it was impossible to pursue both in one band”, and that the band was getting fewer bookings.

The Jazztet reformed in the 1980s and 1990s. In early 1983, the band contained Farmer, Golson, Fuller, Mickey Tucker (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), and Heath. In July, 1995 the Jazztet, with Farmer, Golson, Fuller, Michael Weiss (piano), Buster Williams (bass) and Carl Allen (drums) toured Europe, performing at jazz festivals in Vienna, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, and Belgrade.

Hit the play button and slip out of the weekend.

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