Art Farmer (tp), Gigi Gryce (as), Horace Silver, Freddie Redd, Duke Jordan (p), Percy Heath, Addison Farmer (b), Kenny Clarke, Art Taylor, Philly Joe Jones (d)
Reference: FSRCD 488
Bar code: 8427328604888
Art Farmer and Gigi Gryce headed one of the more individual, unpretentiously inventive mid Fifties modern small combos. The music and solos are in the hard bop tradition, but melded with this fire is a concern for new, challenging, often lyric thematic material and flexible structural devices. The impetus for this came largely from Gryce, a key compositional figure in the transitional stage of modern jazz. He solos intensely in a Bird-based vocabulary full of emotional impact. Farmer, a major talent and already a vital modern jazz trumpet, plays with authority, ease and lyrical, melodic invention. On these dates both are backed by three consistent, driving rhythm sections who provide a swinging foundation throughout.
"When trumpeter Art Farmer teamed with alto saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce, jazz magic took place. The similar sonic texts, concepts, and ideas between these jazz masters undeniably took flight, making for a tandem that was only rivaled by those of Clifford Brown and Max Roach with Sonny Rollins or Harold Land, Miles Davis with John Coltrane, or Lee Morgan with Wayne Shorter. In the mid-'50s, the Prestige label laid down two albums (When Farmer Met Gryce and The Art Farmer Quintet Featuring Gigi Gryce) with three different bands recorded lovingly at Rudy Van Gelder's living room studio in Hackensack, NJ, and the rest was history as documented on this collection. Tracks are meted in chronological order, the first four selections from 1954 featuring pianist Horace Silver, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Kenny Clarke. "A Night at Tony's" and "Blue Concept" are utterly flawless bop vehicles for perfectly paired individualists coming together, the latter piece a simple, witty and fun tune. "Stupendous-Lee" echoes a speedier version of Gryce's "Social Call" with a calypso insert, and the singing tandem of Farmer's and Gryce's blissful unison. "Deltitnu" ("Untitled" spelled backwards) is furious cohesive bop in an anxious dash to the finish line. The next four pieces with Art Farmer's twin brother Addison Farmer on bass, drummer Art Taylor, and pianist Freddie Redd showcase a somewhat cooler side. The classic, languid, sly and sleek "Social Call" is the most memorable of Gryce's conceptions, and an enduring standard. "Capri" is not far behind as a quick, controlled bopper, while "Blue Lights" is easy, light and direct, and the tender, innocent alto of Gryce during "The Infant's Song" is a beauty only rivaled by "I Remember Clifford" or "A Child Is Born." Addison Farmer, drummer Philly Joe Jones, and pianist Duke Jordan are in for six more tracks, including the lone piece Gryce did not write, "Forecast," penned by the keyboardist. It's a good swinger with an uncharacteristic choppy melody. "Evening in Casablanca" is a ballad with a mid-Eastern or even Scottish flavor, "Nica's Tempo" with its ultra modern angular stylings is Gryce's most famous composition with its unusual voicings, "Satellite" is straight-ahead, tough but not tricky jazz at its best, while "Sans Souci" and "Shabooz" combine Latin sounds with cool and creamy swing. All of these tracks are solid, precious, and everlasting, played by expert musicians who plumb every nuance, accent, and blue note to the hilt. A definitive recording for these musicians and for the time period, it's a must have item for any jazz fan, and defines modern jazz in all of its most positive aspects."
—Michael G. Nastos (All Music Guide)