Although no recording date is given for it, "The Art Farmer Quintet Featuring Gigi Gryce" is the earliest of the four albums in this compilation, dating from October 1955, and originally issued on the Prestige label as "Evening in Casablanca". The Quintet featured also pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Addison Farmer and drummer Philly Joe Jones, and this was the second of two albums they recorded during their short existence. "Portrait of Art Farmer" was recorded by Contemporary in April/May 1958, and showcases the leader's trumpet, with pianist Hank Jones, Addison Farmer, and drummer Roy Haynes. "Modern Art" dates from that September, and was issued originally on United Artists. It teamed Art with tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, soon to be co-leader of the Jazztet, and they are ably supported by pianist Bill Evans, Addison Farmer, and drummer Dave Bailey. "The Jazztet and John Lewis" dates from the turn of 1960/61, when the group was made up of trombonist Thomas McIntosh, bassist Thomas Williams, pianist Cedar Walton and drummer Albert Heath, playing scores commissioned from John Lewis.
All of those albums predated Art Farmer's switch to the flugelhorn, and his slightly hollow tone allied with his economical trumpet playing singled out his bop-influenced approach. His style varied between staccato phrases in the faster tempos, and an introspective delivery in the ballads. In the earliest album he was complemented by Gigi Gryce's warm alto sax playing, and later by Benny Golson's fluent tenor style. All of which needs to be underpinned by a dependable rhythm section, and the units on offer here are about as good as they come. All told, this is another excellent compilation from Avid.
Excellent choice of tunes,well played.A nice mix of the frenetic,soulful and "groovy".By way of clarification, I give 4*s as a superlative;5 implies perfection: there is always SOME room for an improvement.