Elario's, the restaurant and jazz club that tops off the Summer House Inn in La Jolla, again demonstrated its resourceful booking policy by bringing in Art Farmer for a two week stand. The Vienna-based master of the fluegelhorn will be skipping Los Angeles this time around.
Farmer has virtually defined a position for fluegelhorn in jazz. The spiritual beauty he brings to it is a reflection of his personality: mellow, relaxed and sometimes gentle, especially when the vehicle is a ballad like Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" or the neglected Ellington tune "What Am I Here For."
When he aims at a higher level of intensity, Farmer occasionally switches to the trumpet, which he plays both open ("Embraceable You") and muted ("Bags Groove").
His rhythm section consisted of Bob Magnusson, that most supple of bassists; Jim Plank, a steady and reliable drummer; and a promising pianist, Randy Porter. Only 26, Porter fits well into this context and is familiar with such standards as John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" and Fats Navarro's "Nostalgia."
Wednesday's opening was unique, since Farmer's first set was preceded by two film presentations. One was a sampler of 15 segments from "Club Date," a public-TV series shot at San Diego's KPBS-TV studio. Featuring Bud Shank, James Moody, Joe Pass and others, the sampler was a fascinating cornucopia. It was followed by a full half hour Art Farmer show taped during his visit here last year with a quintet, featuring saxophonist Clifford Jordan.
Farmer continues at Elario's five days a week through April 8. That he is not to be seen in person in Los Angeles is regrettable.