Art Farmer & Jim Hall: "Big Blues" (CTI/ORGM) 1978/2015
[45rpm-edition, 2-LP set, numbered and limited issue]
Produced by Creed Taylor
Engineered by David Palmer @ Electric Lady Studios (New York, NY), assisted by Joel Cohn
Arranged by David Matthews
Photos: White Gate
Album Design (Artwork): Sibbi Chalawick
Liner Notes: Ira Gitler
Originally released as a single LP (catalog number CTI 7083), this gorgeous album now re-appears as a 2-LP set (cat. # ORGM 2018) due to a wise decision of the guys from ORGM (Original Recordings Group Music), in association with Speakers Corner Records, two companies that have been constantly reissuing important titles from Creed Taylor's CTI label. The official release date in Europe is February 28, 2015.
Recorded during only 2 sessions (February 2 & 3, 1978) and released one year later, "Big Blues" remains one of my favorite sessions ever done by Farmer, Hall, Taylor and all the musicians involved. Kudos also to David Matthews, CTI's chief arranger at that time, that decided to use a sparse instrumentation consisting only of flugel, guitar, vibes, bass and drums. No keyboards, no strings or brass sections. no overdubs. Just the phenomenal "basic" group, with the co-leaders sharing the solo spots with vibist Mike Mainieri, who flyes over the horizon. All in top form.
That was the only session ever done for CTI by Michael Moore (who had already played with Gerry Mulligan and Bill Evans, and develops a long association with Gene Bertoncini), whose blessed tone of his acoustic bass is captured in a wondeful way. Furthermore, he instantly "clicked" with drummer Steve Gadd, infallible as always. Their interaction was simply perfect, and I can't believe they never met again. Hip, hip, very hip!
The repertoire includes four long tracks: Hall's exquisite title track "Big Blues," Thad Jones' lovely ballad "A Child Is Born," Benny Golson's jazz classic "Whisper Not," and a superb adaptation of Maurice Ravel's "Pavane For A Dead Princess" prepared by David Matthews, somehow similar to what Don Sebesky had done three years earlier with Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" for another Jim Hall masterpiece, "Concierto." Btw, both tracks inspired me and Rodrigo Lima when conceiving our adaptation of Brahms' "Symphony #3" for Lima's "Saga" CD, which, not coincidentally, features Mike Mainieri.
Two tracks per side in the original "Big Blues" LP. Now, one track in each of the four sides, with the glorious recording by David Palmer @ Electric Lady now sounding even more pristine thanks to Bernie Grundman's remastering, and the audiophile pressing at Pallas (in Germany). It's a numbered and limited issue of 1,500 copies destined for audiophiles. If you love CTI and/or any of the musicians involved, you can't miss it.