Art Farmer :

‘Concerto For Billy the Kid (unreleased take)’

(George Russell Smalltet)

Jazz Workshop, George Russell Smalltet, 1956

IC: (after a few seconds) Art Farmer!

IC: The thing about Art Farmer is that he's instantly recognisable. I can recognise Art Farmer anywhere and this is an amazing gift. I don't think Art had to work at that, it's just the way he articulates notes, and he's got a curious way of separating the notes when he plays. They don't run into one another the way most trumpet players do so: they're actually like beads on a string, and that's very curious. He's got this very nice thing that he does: a little bit of vibrato at the end of the note and its a very unique and original way of playing. Everybody's unique, and it just so happens by some freak of fortune that Art got his uniqueness into his playing. If everybody could do that, everybody would be getting great audiences everywhere. I talked to him about this record with George Russell, because it's very hard to play, the music is very difficult, and they played as if it was easy. I asked Art how they did it and he said that they rehearsed the music every Sunday for months and when they were ready to do something they did it. Art is one of the very very few original individual players around today: I like him very much, he's got a great feeling and tone.

TC: You've played with George Russell; did you find his music hard to play?

IC: Yes, it's hard to play, and it's also hard physically in terms of duration and stamina, you've got to be in really good shape to play with George. It requires great control but the rewards are very great. It's a joy; George began as a drummer and his music is always incredibly eloquent rhythmically, full of the most wonderful rhythms, and he also has very good guys playing with him. It's a joy to work with him, although you really have to give your all for George, George demands everything you can give and more, and when you've given everything, he's still asking for more. At the end, you're completely spent, but the rewards are very great, and some of it is sheer ecstacy, when the band's really going.