July 25, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
WBGO bids farewell to Johnny Griffin, a master jazz musician. Many jazz people referred to Griffin as "The Little Giant," no doubt because of his dimunitive stature (he was a shade below 5 and a half feet tall). The consensus, however, was that Griffin's true stature loomed large in the music. Johnny Griffin could easily fall under the category of "hard bop saxophonist," but to do so would be an injustice. When you listen to the raw muscular sound of early Johnny Griffin records, you can hear a combination of saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins, the rough-and-tumble rhythm and blues of Griffin's Chicago hometown, and some definitive gospel wails. It was a big, combustible sound. One that will be missed.
If you're looking for good music from Griffin, you have plenty of options.
Some suggestions after the jump.
© 2008 WBGO
April 26, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Jimmy Giuffre died on Thursday, a few days shy of his 87th birthday. Fans of jazz know Giuffre as the composer of the Woody Herman hit, "Four Brothers." Beyond that, Giuffre had a unique mind for music. As I listened to Sonny Rollins' "A Night at the Village Vanguard" yesterday, a record without piano or chordal instrumentation, I thought about how demanding it is to make music like that. Jimmy Giuffre was among one of the first to try, on his record Tangents in Jazz.
I've always liked "The Train and The River," another Giuffre work that people describe as folk-chamber-jazz. When you listen to this, you might suspect that some musicians today like Bill Frisell owe a lot to Jimmy Giuffre. Yes, they do. Anyway, here are two versions of Giuffre's trio playing "The Train and The River," one from the television program The Sound of Jazz:
Then, the great trio of Giuffre, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and guitarist Jim Hall, from the Newport Jazz Festival documentary, Jazz on a Summer's Day.
One of the Jimmy Giuffre Three members, Jim Hall, has undergone back surgery for the last couple of months. He has been rehabilitating, and is expected to be released on Tuesday. WBGO wishes the distinguished guitarist and NEA Jazz Master a speedy recovery. Check out Jim Hall's Great Live Moment while you're here.
© 2008 WBGO
February 29, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I don't really care so much about why Herbie Hancock won a Grammy. All of the bloggers from the indie rock camp should get over it, which, I'm sure, they have by now (it's just the Grammys, folks...). I'm just happy that jazz gets any attention from television. On that note, check out CBS Sunday Morning this weekend. Correspondent Rita Braver visits Herbie Hancock at home. What she discovers about Herbie is as interesting as you can imagine from someone as interesting as Herbie Hancock. Jazz people already know this. Now, folks who watch TV before church service can get an insider portrait of the recent GRAMMY Album of The Year winner. And how many of us have ever been inside Herbie's pad, anyway?
And tomorrow, The Harvard Foundation (for Intercultural and Race Relations) of Harvard University will name Herbie Hancock 2008 Artist of the Year at their annual Cultural Rhythms ceremony. Cool.
© 2008 WBGO