Happy birthday to the great trumpet and flugelhorn player of bop and beyond, Art Farmer! A player of precise control and elegant brightness, he had a long and distinguished career that was creatively giving til the end.
He grew up in Phoenix and tried out several instruments: piano, violin, tuba and cornet before settling on trumpet as a teenager. He started making his name on the Los Angeles scene of the '40s, working with his bassist twin brother Addison Farmer, Sonny Criss, Jay McShann, Roy Porter, Johnny Otis, Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson, Big Joe Turner, etc. In the early '50s he worked with Wardell Gray, including first recording his own classic tune "Farmer's Market".
In '52 he joined Lionel Hampton's band and went to Europe with them before moving to NYC in '53, where he found a lot of work with Gigi Gryce, Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, George Russell, Jimmy Giuffre, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson and others. He also participated in Edgard Varese's mysterious free-jazz workshop in '57.
In '59 he and Benny Golson formed The Jazztet. After it disbanded in '62 he worked with Jim Hall, Jimmy Heath and on Broadway. He permanently moved to Europe in '68 where he played with the Clarke-Boland Big Band, Don Byas, Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster. Starting in the '60s he began to feature more prominently on the flugelhorn.
He toured internationally throughout the '70s (recording with Yusef Lateef and Tommy Flanagan) and the '80s found him collaborating with Clifford Jordan, Ran Blake and others. In later years he also played his own custom-made "flumpet". His career was lengthy and successful and he remains a favorite of trumpeters to this day.