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Art Farmer: Brass Shout / The Aztec Suite

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Brass Shout / The Aztec Suite combines two Art Farmer releases: Brass Shout, arranged by his longtime associate, Benny Golson, and The Aztec Suite, including its famous panoramic title track, arranged by Chico O'Farrill. Combining these two titles, both from 1959, creates an expansive survey of jazz, Latin jazz, and pop played as jazz.

Swaddled and swaying within their brass construction, Golson's Latin jazz rearrangements of "Autumn Leaves" and "April in Paris" welcome you to this rhythmic dance. Golson's tune "Five Spot After Dark" cuts a sharper groove, the sound of Saturday evening jumping into Saturday night. Composer Bobby Timmons sits in on "Moanin,'" the only tune with piano on either set, and spins a web of soulful funk that sounds very much like Horace Silver, another jazz pianist fond of that "Spanish tinge" (and who composed the opening "Nica's Dream").

This set's obvious showpiece, O'Farrill's epic "Aztec Suite," unfurls with all the color and drama of Gone with the Wind. Each soloist steps out from, then back into the roaring ensemble, which continually moves forward into the next passage, which showcases the next soloist, and so on. Every soloist plays brilliantly, the ensemble roars majestically, and neither overpowers the other. A genuine masterpiece of ensemble Latin jazz, "Aztec" is most likely the closest that O'Farrill ever came to matching the reach and scope of Duke Ellington's suites.

Although it's been historically overshadowed by "Aztec Suite," this version of "Heat Wave" might be even better—with Farmer and his percussionists playing so furiously that they sound intent on blowing each note completely off their sheet music—because it burns just as hot but consumes less than half the time. "Woody N'You" (Dizzy Gillespie) extends the torrid Afro-Cuban groove and explosive ensemble horns, one more stellar example from a set that's thoroughly vibrant, compelling, and bursting with energy.


Track Listing: Nica's Dream; Autumn Leaves; Moanin'; April in Paris; Five Spot After Dark; Stella by Starlight; Minor Vamp; The Aztec Suite; Heat Wave; Delirio; Woody 'N' You; Drume Negrita; Alone Together.

Personnel: Art Farmer: trumpet; Benny Golson: arranger; Chico O'Farrill: arranger; Lee Morgan: trumpet; Ernie Royal: trumpet; Bernie Glow: trumpet; Markie Markowitz: trumpet; Nick Travis: trumpet; Joe Ferrante: trumpet; Curtis Fuller: trombone; Jimmy Cleveland: trombone; Wayne Andre: trombone; Frank Rehak: trombone; Tommy Mitchell: trombone; James Haughton: baritone horn; Julius Watkins: French horn; Bob Northern: French horn; Jimmy Buffington: French horn; Tony Miranda: French horn; Don Butterfield: tuba; Jay McAllister: tuba; Spencer Sinatra: tenor sax; Zoot Sims: tenor sax; Sheldon Powell: tenor sax; Sol Schlinger: baritone sax; Bobby Timmons: piano; Hank Jones: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Addison Farmer: bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums; Elvin Jones: drums; Charlie Persip: drums; Jose Mangual: Latin percussion; Tommy Lopez: Latin percussion; Willie Rodriguez: Latin percussion.

Title: Brass Shout / The Aztec Suite | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


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