Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Flugelhornist Art Farmer, who's been living in Vienna, Austria, since 1968, has made far too few appearances in the Washington area recently.
But he's making up for lost time. He was here for a week last spring. And Sunday night, he gave a warm and enthralling performances at the Hirshhorn Museum in the Smithsonian's Jazz Connoisseur Series.
The hornman has long been known for his fine ability to improvise lush, hummable melodies, and at the same time to build his solos with a superb sense of construction. His work Sunday night was similarly distinctive.
Farmer's task was made easier by pianist Ray Bryant, an excellent soloist and accompanist. The other members of the quartet were bassist John Burr and drummer Jimmy Madison.
The leader's lyricism was best shown on ballads such as "In a Sentimental Mood" and "I Can't Get Started," both of which he delineated and decorated marvelously. The latter was particularly wondrous in the way he gently improvised around the original melody, suggesting it now and then in a playful way.
Pianist Byrant contributed a mighty solo in the latter, at one point reaching a thunderous crescendo that seemed as if it might engulf the other musicians. He also offered a solo version of John Lewis' "Django," inserting some boogie-woogie effects early in his brief rendition. The approach was interesting but too novel for any long-term interest.
Bassist Burr was a steady accompanist and played several fine plucked and bowed solos. Madison's percussion work was crisp and precise.