Art Farmer, King of the Flumpet

Profiles of jazz trumpeter Art Farmer are very interesting for what they leave out: There is relatively little about Farmer the man. No anecdotes, no reminiscences. It certainly wasn’t that he was disliked—the little that comes through is quite positive. It’s that there is not much detail. The man literally let his trumpet – and flugelhorn and frumpet – do the talking.

The profiles do provide a tremendous amount of information about the arc of his great career. Art Farmer was born in 1928 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His identical twin, Addison, became a well known double bass player. The boys were raised in Phoenix.

The elder (by an hour) Farmer played with some of the biggest names in jazz during ensuring decades, including Jay McShann and Big Joe Turner, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver. He was known for his mellow and sensitive sound. He began as a trumpeter and switched to the less popular flugelhorn, which allowed a deeper and mellower sound without the use of a mute. He was instrumental (pun intended) for the development of a new instrument that combined the trumpet and the flugelhorn. It was called, of course, a flumpet.

Perhaps the reason that the emphasis in the profiles was more fully on Farmer’s resume than his personality was that he was as mellow as his playing. He was said to be a quiet and somewhatg introverted man. He was married three times. He finally settled in Vienna with his third wife, a native of the country. He died in 1999.

Above is Monk’s “Blue Monk.” Below is “My Kinda Love,” with Jim Hall on piano.

Wikipedia, Westword Blogs and Leo T. Sullivan Jazz Websites were used in research for this post. The homepage photo was taken by Heinrich Klaffs.