Saxophonist and clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre was a first rate innovator who restlessly reinvented his art without losing its signature character. Despite leaving behind a large recorded legacy Giuffre remains far from being a household name known mostly in hardcore jazz aficionado circles. In 2012 producer Zev Feldman of Elemental Music came across two unreleased Guiffre tapes from 1965. Both were cut in New York at, now defunct, venues. Feldman was taken by the freedom of the music and the sense of adventure that imbued it A year and half later he released a sumptuously designed two CD set ...read more
Fame can be fickle, meaning that someone like Jimmy Giuffre can fade into relative obscurity, remembered and appreciated by fellow musicians and a few hardcore jazz fans, while never having reached into the broader public consciousness in any measurable way. As a multi-reed artist, Giuffre was certainly one of the most original and creative visionary forces in jazz. Perhaps Giuffre's best known ensemble was his first: a combo that was unorthodox in its day, featuring Giuffre, Jim Hall on guitar, and one of several bass players. A highlight of this combo, 7 Pieces (Verve, 1959), has been reissued ...read more
Jimmy was quite an addition to my life. He was kind of a father figure to me, especially since my old man split when I was seven. I learned so much from Jimmy musically. For instance, if he had written something and he wanted the melody phrased a certain way, he would say, Try to make those notes string together" so it sounded more like a wind instrument though played by guitar. Especially because I would be playing lines along with Jimmy--first with [bassist] Ralph Pena and we went through a few other bassists and eventually the trio was with ...read more
Jimmy Giuffre made waves in 1961-62 with the release of Fusion (Verve, 1961), Thesis (Verve, 1961) and Free Fall (Columbia, 1962). With pianist Paul Bley and a 20-year-old Steve Swallow on upright bass, the Third Stream innovator created the best music of his career--telepathic performances that continue to astound and inspire more than four decades later. As with so many great things however, the trio was short lived--it would be thirty years before group that quietly rocked the jazz scene reunited. The Life of a Trio: Saturday & Sunday documents the long-awaited 1989 reunion of Giuffre's remarkable ...read more
Within the archetypal West Coast sound, Jimmy Giuffre always had his own thing going on, and in the case of both The Four Brothers Sound (Atlantic) and Tangents In Jazz (Capitol), the two dates brought together here from the mid-1950s, that point seems obvious.
He was of course a tenor saxophonist every bit as influenced by Lester Young as Zoot Sims, but as with that master, his take on Young's legacy was an individual one, and even at this comparatively early stage in his career, it's obvious he was moving into his own musical world.
That said, there are examples ...read more
Jimmy Giuffre/Paul Bley/Steve Swallow Emphasis & Flight 1961 Hatology 2003
At a time when the leading edge of mainstream jazz was pulling through modal jazz into hard bop, Jimmy Giuffre was headed in another direction. His early trios were simultaneously polite and experimental, an unusual combination that revealed both his cool roots and his fearlessness in stepping over the cliff. Nowhere were these qualities more evident than on his early-'60s trio records alongside pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow.
Titles like Free Fall and Flight explicity emphasized his steps ...read more
It’s Jimmy Giuffre’s birthday. An unseasonable snow covers the ground around the converted old New England stone polishing mill that he and his wife Juanita have called home for 26 years. The 82 year old multi reed player and iconoclast listens to piano works by Villa Lobos and Ravel, birthday presents from friends. A restless explorer and truly fearless improviser most of his life, Giuffre’s accomplishments and achievements have gone largely unnoticed especially since he confounded critics and fans with his 1962 release Free Fall.
Suddenly his “blues-based folk jazz” played in unusual trio formats gave way ...read more