Art Farmer and Addison Farmer

Art Farmer and Addison Farmer were two of the most respected jazz musicians in America and Europe. The twin brothers were born in Council Bluffs, Iowa on August 21, 1928 into a musical family. At age four, they moved to Phoenix, Arizona then later ventured to Los Angeles, California where they attended Jefferson High School in their senior year with others who also became prominent jazz musicians.

Art and Addison Farmer at age 4
Art and Addison Farmer at age 4 (Art is on the right)

Addison Farmer, bassist, was a graduate of the Julliard Music School in New York. He made his mark performing with Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. He free-lanced in NY with notable musicians including Gigi Gryce, Teddy Charles, Stan Getz and Mose Allison. He was a member of the original Art Farmer – Benny Golson Jazztet in 1959. He passed away unexpectedly in February, 1963 from a brain aneurysm.

Art Farmer, flumpeter, flugelhornist and trumpeter, “Mr. Melody” became most known for his lyrical sensitive melodic playing as well as his ability to adapt to diverse musical styles. He began his career in Los Angeles working with band leaders Horace Henderson, Floyd Ray, Johnny Otis, Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson and Jay McShann. Art was a member of the illustrious 1953 Lionel Hampton band, which included Clifford Brown, Quincy Jones, Gigi Gryce among others. Art worked with Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan and George Russell. He formed a Quintet with Gigi Gryce. In late 1959 he founded the legendary Jazztet (a sextet) with saxophonist Benny Golson which stayed together until 1962 and later reformed for a brief period in the 1980’s. In the sixties, Art formed a quartet with guitarist Jim Hall. He also toured Europe several times. In 1968 when he was invited to join a radio orchestra in Austria, Art moved to Vienna. He became a featured soloist with other well-known European big bands. Art established his own Quintet performing in cities across the United States and in nearly all countries of Europe and in Japan. In the last several years of his life, Art received recognition for his achievements: The NEA Jazz Masters’ Lifetime Achievement Award, The Austrian Gold Medal of Merit and the highest Austrian Award for Arts and Sciences and a major concert in his honor at Lincoln Center, New York in August, 1994 saluted his life-time musical achievements. His contemporaries participated, including Gerry Mulligan, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Ron Carter, Jim Hall, Wynton Marsalis, Geoffrey Keezer and Lewis Nash. Art passed away of a heart attack October 4, 1999 in New York City.