The IAJE's Collapse: What Happened?
Jimmy Giuffre, who will long be remembered as composer for the Woody Herman Orchestra of the jazz classic "Four Brothers," died April 24, two days before his eighty-seventh birthday. More recently, Giuffre was known for his modernist compositions for the Jimmy Giuffre 3 with guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Ralph Pena (or Jim Atlas), and later with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow. Giuffre played about half a dozen instruments from bass flute to soprano sax, but was best known as a clarinetist whose low-register tone was instantly identifiable (as were his tasteful tenor and baritone saxophones). On his breakthrough album, "Tangents in Jazz" (1955), Giuffre eschewed chordal instruments such as piano and guitar, and his trios from 1956-61 were recorded without a drummer. From the mid-50s on, Giuffre taught music, first at the Lenox School of Jazz and later at the New School, New York University, Rutgers University and the New England Conservatory of Music. In the 1980s he began a productive association with the French saxophonist Andre Jaume, with whom he recorded a duo album, Momentum. His earlier albums 1961 and Free Fall were well-received when reissued in the '90s. Even though his music underwent dramatic changes during his long career, Giuffre will always be associated with one of the gold standards of big-band Jazz composition, "Four Brothers," a song that introduced the unique Herman sound (three tenor saxophones and a baritone).
And last but by no means least, Humphrey Lyttelton, trumpet player, bandleader, radio personality, journalist, raconteur, humorist, calligrapher, cartoonist and stalwart standard-bearer for jazz in Great Britain for more than six decades, died April 25 at age eighty-six. Even a cursory review of Lyttelton's long and distinguished career gives one pause, as he truly was a Renaissance man. In the words of Steve Voce, in London's Independent newspaper, "Humphrey Lyttelton excelled at everything that he chose to do." And he chose to do a lot. Lyttelton formed his own band in 1948, a couple of years after completing military service in which he was wounded, and shortly before he joined the London Daily Mail as a cartoonist. Lyttelton's band, which recorded often for Parlophone Records, served as a way station for such future standouts as saxophonists Tony Coe, Danny Moss, Alan Barnes, Joe Temperley and Karen Sharp, trombonists Roy Williams, Pete Strange and John Picard, and a large number of pianists, bassists and drummers. In 1949, the band accompanied American jazz clarinetist Sidney Bechet in a London concert. In the mid-50s, "fed up with continually being accused of being a traitor [to trad jazz]," Lyttelton left the style behind and started playing more modern Jazz. In his spare time, Lyttelton wrote a restaurant guide, worked on his calligraphic hobby, and hosted radio programs, beginning in 1967 with "The Best of Jazz," which ran on BBC Radio 4 for more than forty years. Five years later, against his better judgment, he signed on as host of Radio 4's "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue," which proved to be one of more popular radio programs in Great Britain. He also wrote books including I Play As I Please (1954), Second Chorus (1958), Take It From The Top (1975), The Best Of Jazz 1 (1978), The Best Of Jazz 2 (1981), Why No Beethoven (1984) and It Just Occurred to Me . . . (2006). In 1983 he formed his own record label, Calligraph, and recorded many of his musical associates, British and American. At the time of his passing, Lyttelton was working on another book, this one about calligraphy and titled Delivered by Hand. He not only helped Voce write his obituary but fashioned a perfect closing line when he said to Voce, "I do wish I could be there to read it when it's published."
And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin'!
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