Viewing: Art Farmer - View all posts

A LABOR OF LOVE ~ DM on Monarch Records 



Like many independent jazz labels, Monarch Records was a labor of love. None of us got rich, but we had fun and were able to make available some quality music by Cedar Walton, Dave Ellis, Eddie Marshall and others. We released dozens of recordings before the company was sold. I'm most proud of our live recording by Art Farmer, one of his last and our best.

OLD SCHOOL ~ DM on Red Reflections 



Red Reflections was my first CD as leader, recorded when I was 29. We mostly recorded my originals. Art Farmer recommended that we include "The Outlaw" from the Horace Silver book. We also did a Michael Brecker tune we all used to play at jam sessions in Boston. We played a string of club performances and then went into the studio—old school—so the recording really captures our live quintet sound just as it was in the mid-'90s.

INSPIRING ~ DM on Ingrid Jensen 



One of my favorite players on the scene currently is Ingrid Jensen. Ingrid is inspiring because she's expanding the vocabulary for trumpet and flugelhorn, extending the innovations of Kenny Wheeler and Woody Shaw in a very personal and compelling way.

Incidentally, Art Farmer was also a fan of Ingrid. He predicted that she will ultimately be recognized as a major artist of historical significance.

LIKE A SINGER ~ DM on Phrasing 



I try to phrase like a singer, so I listen to a lot of vocalists, especially Ella Fitzgerald. And because I favor a melodic, lyrical approach to improvisation, most of the jazz instrumentalists I listen to are also from that tradition -- people like Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Art Farmer and Ben Webster.

A REMARKABLE GIFT ~ DM on Art Farmer 



It's a remarkable gift, to meet your hero, the world's acknowledged master on your instrument, and for him to ultimately become your teacher and friend. Miraculously, it happened to me, and I will be forever grateful.

Mentor-protege relationships in jazz are so important. It's wonderful that colleges, conservatories and other institutions are now embracing jazz education, but I feel strongly that our master musicians need to maintain the lineage of the oral tradition.

There are some things you just can't learn in school.

TREASURE ~ DM on Art's Horn 



Art Farmer had a comfortable life in Vienna, with a house, a family and a steady gig as soloist with the radio orchestra there, but he never rested on his laurels. He continued to practice every day and develop as an artist, maintaining his profile, recording and touring internationally right up until the very end of his life.

When Art died, Billy Taylor and I performed a duet at his memorial, and I was honored to play one of Art's flugelhorns. This is the horn I play today: a custom hybrid with an American Kanstul bell, French Besson lead-pipe and English Besson valves. I treasure this one-of-a-kind instrument, but I'll probably go to my grave trying to figure out how Art was able to produce such a gorgeous tone.

WARM VALLEY ~ DM on Farmer's Masterpiece 



Art Farmer made over 200 recordings, many of them brilliant, but to my ears his masterpiece is
Warm Valley on the Concord label. Art was at the top of his game, and the tunes he picked for the date are perfect showcases for the effortless logic of his improvisations. His band on the recording was one of his best, and they all give great performances. Akira Tana's playing on "Three Little Words," for example, is absolutely killing.

THE GOLD STANDARD ~ DM on Art Farmer 



Art Farmer was my mentor and was one of the wisest and kindest men I've ever met. My years under his tutelage were an invaluable part of my education. Art was my finishing school, and I'm profoundly grateful to him for how generous he was with his time, sharing his wisdom about music and life.

Art taught me what to value in this craft of jazz: the importance of taking risks and challenging yourself, yet never losing the fundamental primacy of playing in tune with a mature tone above all.

He would say, "Fill that horn with air! It doesn't matter how hip you can play if you don't maintain a good sound." And he really walked the talk, developing a tone so rich, round and warm, it has become the gold standard for anyone who is serious about the big horn.

THE EXPERTS AGREE 

 
"The goal of learning is to become capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. Three phases of development must be mastered. The first is the COGNITIVE or 'post hoc' phase. You understand you want to do something, and you see the path ahead of you. This is the trial and error phase. The second phase is called ASSOCIATIVE or 'ad hoc.' You achieve awareness in the moment. The simple aspects of the new skill appear fluent and polished, but the more complicated aspects demand concentration. The third phase is the AUTONAMOUS or 'pre hoc' phase. You've learned the skill so well that you can perform it consistently, fluidly and in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The motor programs involved are stored in the long-term memory so the mind is free to invent something new. The secret? You must pass through phases one and two to get to three."
~Jean Piaget

"Mastery is attainable through SHU-HA-RI. SHU means to learn, to obey the teacher and to protect the fundamental forms. HA is to detach, to forget the self, and to become one with your practice. RI means to leave home, to separate from the master, and to forge a new way. RI is the way of transcendence, the way of nature. Forms are left behind and only spirit remains. You are probably not yet ready for RI."
~Morihei Ueshiba

"There are three stages to learning jazz: first, you have to study how the masters did it. Second, you practice until you're so comfortable with the tradition that you make it your own. Only then are you ready for the final stage: forgetting what you've learned and finding your own voice. IMITATION, ASSIMILATION, INNOVATION. Always in that order. And be patient, because you'll spend most of your life working on step two."
~Art Farmer