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Wednesday, October 5, 2005

The Complete Argo/Mercury Art Farmer/Benny Golson/Jazztet Sessions

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2005 at 12:00 AM

The Ornette Coleman Quartet made its New York debut at the Five Spot in November 1959, heralded a new era in jazz and made history. The Jazztet made its debut on the same bill, hit the highest mainstream standards and … well, now there’s this Mosaic box set to help restore their legacy.

The group was helmed by two in-demand soloists: former Jazz Messenger Benny Golson on saxophone and, on trumpet and flugelhorn, ex-Gerry Mulligan associate Art Farmer. Farmer could be counted on for the hot tune here and there. Golson churned them out: "Blues March," "Killer Joe" and "I Remember Clifford" alone put him in the jazz composing hall of fame. And the co-leaders rounded out the sextets with the likes of trombonists Curtis Fuller and Grachan Moncur III, and pianists McCoy Tyner, Tommy Flanagan and Cedar Walton. (The frontline of sax, trumpet-flugelhorn and trombone was key to the group sound.)

Blame their demise after a few years on that tone-deaf entity know as the business. Their musical excellence is proven through seven CDs here, including sessions for six Jazztet recordings, separate Golson and Farmer combo dates from the same time period, and a Farmer-led big band with Oliver Nelson arrangements. Listen to the sass of the Jazztet’s "It Ain’t Necessarily So," or the elegance of their "Django" (from a date with arranger John Lewis), or to Fuller proving himself a slide ruler on "It’s All Right with Me." Not bad for the also-rans.

W. Kim Heron is the managing editor of Metro Times. E-mail wkheron@metrotimes.com.

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