|Years active||1959–1962; 1982–late 1980s|
|Associated acts||Art Farmer, Benny Golson|
The Jazztet was a jazz sextet, co-founded in 1959 by trumpeter Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson. In its first phase, it lasted until 1962, helping to launch the careers of pianist McCoy Tyner and trombonist Grachan Moncur III. Farmer and Golson revived the group in 1982 and it again toured extensively. Each generation of the group recorded six albums, which were released on a variety of labels.
The Jazztet was "famous for nicely structured, precise yet soulful pieces and a swinging style". It benefitted from having a set of strong compositions by Golson, including "I Remember Clifford", "Whisper Not", "Blues March", "Killer Joe" and "Five Spot After Dark". While Golson provided a lot of the arrangements, Farmer took the largest share of the soloing responsibilities.
The original sextet comprised Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller (trombone), McCoy Tyner, Addison Farmer (bass) and Dave Bailey (drums). Bailey stated that the band name was created by himself and Fuller; the name "Jazztet" had, however, been used at least as early as 1949, for a band led by Eddie Woodland in the New Jersey–Maryland area. The band's first public performance was on November 10, 1959, at the Village Note in Washington, D.C. Their first appearance in New York, at the Town Hall on November 28, was well received, with The New York Times' critic John S. Wilson writing that, although the soloists were "unusually good", "it is the ensemble feeling of the group that is its strongest point, for Mr. Golson's arrangements constantly offer the soloists a kind of close, intimate support that has all but disappeared from small group jazz".
Their New York debut was shared with Ornette Coleman and other players of a more radical style than their own. Farmer felt that the band suffered from being co-billed with Coleman, who attracted more press attention: "compared to what Ornette was doing, what we were doing [...] was more conventional. It just didn’t seem to be as adventurous, stepping out into the unknown like what Ornette was doing. Ornette got more notice than we did. I don’t think we ever recovered from that."
Following their first appearance in Chicago on February 12, 1960 (at the Orchestra Hall), the Jazztet made their television debut, on The Steve Allen Show on February 15. Their first record contract, with Argo Records was announced in March, 1960; by this time, Lex Humphries had replaced Dave Bailey on drums, with Bailey stating that he left because "outside forces" had pressured the two leaders to use the name "the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet". This is the band that recorded the Jazztet's first album, Meet the Jazztet, on February 6, 9 and 10. The album was reported as having good sales, and a single from it, "Killer Joe", with "Mox Nix" on the B side, reportedly sold over 40,000 copies in a few months. By May the same year, McCoy Tyner had left to join John Coltrane's band; he was replaced by Duke Pearson. The band played at the Newport Jazz Festival on June 30, 1960 and the first Atlantic City jazz festival two days later.
Also in 1960, the Jazztet won Down Beat Magazine's International Critics Poll New Star award for jazz groups. By July the same year, Tom McIntosh had replaced Curtis Fuller on trombone, with the other five members being the same. By the following month, however, the drummer had changed: Albert Heath replacing Humphries. The personnel continued to change: by early September, Addison Farmer had left, being replaced on bass by Tommy Williams, and pianist Cedar Walton had taken over from Pearson. This sextet recorded three albums: Big City Sounds (September 16, 19 and 20, 1960); The Jazztet and John Lewis (December 20 and 21, 1960 and January 9, 1961, featuring compositions and arrangements by John Lewis); and the May 15, 1961 concert recording entitled The Jazztet at Birdhouse. On July 1, 1961 the Jazztet again played the Newport Jazz Festival. By the time of the band's first recording for Mercury Records, only Farmer and Golson remained from the Argo days; the new players were Grachan Moncur III (trombone), Harold Mabern (piano), Herbie Lewis (bass), and Roy McCurdy (drums).
The band eventually broke up in 1962, as the leaders felt that the project was taking up a lot of time, with frequent rehearsals required to integrate new members unfamiliar with their difficult material. Farmer stated that "we were spending more time rehearsing what we had done than moving ahead. [...] Benny felt like he would like to stay in New York, [...] and do more writing and get involved with various other things than just working with the Jazztet on the road and writing for the Jazztet".
All have Art Farmer (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Benny Golson (tenor saxophone).
|Year recorded||Title||Label||Other Musicians / Notes|
|1960||Meet the Jazztet||Argo||Curtis Fuller (trombone), McCoy Tyner (piano), Addison Farmer (bass), Lex Humphries (drums)|
|1960||Big City Sounds||Argo||Tom McIntosh (trombone), Cedar Walton (piano), Tommy Williams (bass), Albert Heath (drums)|
|1960–61||The Jazztet and John Lewis||Argo||Personnel as on Big City Sounds; John Lewis (composer, arranger)|
|1961||The Jazztet at Birdhouse||Argo||Personnel as on Big City Sounds; in concert|
|1962||Here and Now||Mercury||Grachan Moncur III (trombone), Harold Mabern (piano), Herbie Lewis (bass), Roy McCurdy (drums)|
|1962||Another Git Together||Mercury||Personnel as on Here and Now|
|1982||Voices All||East World||Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Buster Williams (bass), Albert Heath|
|1982||Playboy Jazz Festival||Elektra/Musician||Mike Wolff (piano), John B. Williams (bass), Roy McCurdy, Nancy Wilson (vocals); in concert; album shared with various bands|
|1983||Moment to Moment||Soul Note||Curtis Fuller, Mickey Tucker (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), Albert Heath|
|1983||Nostalgia||Baystate||Curtis Fuller, Mickey Tucker, Rufus Reid (bass), Billy Hart (drums)|
|1986||Back to the City||Contemporary||Curtis Fuller, Mickey Tucker, Ray Drummond, Marvin 'Smitty' Smith (drums)|
|1986||Real Time||Contemporary||Personnel as on Back to the City|
- Koch, Lawrence "Jazztet" In Kernfeld, Barry (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.) Grove Music Online / Oxford Music Online. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- Wynn, Ron "The Jazztet: Biography" AllMusic.
- Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007) The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, p. 261. Oxford University Press.
- Wilson, John S. (July 1, 1982) "Jazztet's Reunion Mixes the Old and the New" New York Times.
- Morgan, Alun. In McCarthy, Albert; Morgan, Alun; Oliver, Paul; and Harrison, Max (1968) Jazz on record: a critical guide to the first 50 years: 1917–1967, p. 99. Hanover Books.
- New York Amsterdam News (November 7, 1959) p. 15.
- Jack, Gordon (2004) Fifties jazz talk: an oral retrospective, Scarecrow, pp. 19–20.
- Rea, E. B. (June 4, 1949) "Encores and Echoes" Afro-American, p. 6.
- Huntley (February 15, 1949) "If You Ask Me....!" Philadelphia Tribune, p. 12.
- Wilson, John S. (November 30, 1959) "Program of Jazz is Offered Here" New York Times, p. 26.
- "Art Farmer: NEA Jazz Master (1999)" (June 29–30, 1995) Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program NEA Jazz Master interview, p. 60.
- Daily Defender (February 10, 1960) p. 17.
- "TV Guide" (February 13, 1960) New York Amsterdam News, p. 15.
- "The 'Jazztet' Combo To Blue Note March 15" (March 14, 1960) Daily Defender, p. 16.
- "The Jazztet Really Making Strides Now" (August 20, 1960) New York Amsterdam News, p. 14.
- Matthews, Les (May 28, 1960) "Mr. 1-2-5 Street" New York Amsterdam News, p. 11.
- New York Times (June 19, 1960) p. 4X.
- The Washington Post (June 24, 1960) p. B10.
- Walker, Jesse H. (July 23, 1960) "Theatricals" New York Amsterdam News, p. 17.
- "Al Farmer's Jazztet Session Draws Raves" (July 30, 1960) Philadelphia Tribune, p. 5.
- "Jazz Festival Drops Loot in Festival: Diz, Nina Spark Horizons' Bash" (September 10, 1960) Pittsburgh Courier, p. A18.
- "'Newport' Festival Ends" (July 8, 1961) The Chicago Defender, p. 10.
- Giddins, Gary (1985) Rhythm-a-ning: Jazz Tradition and Innovation in the 1980s, p. 135. Oxford University Press.
- "The Jazztet (& More): A History and Annotated Discography" Michael Fitzgerald's discography of the Jazztet.