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MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Introducing Johnny Griffin – Blue Note 1533

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In jazz and rock--heck, even in classical music--there is a sacred throne for those who play fast. Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson occupy such thrones. So do Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen. Fast is fun. Johnny Griffin played fast--very fast. The evidence is here in Griffin's very first album, Introducing Johnny Griffin. It's a 1956 date with a quartet that includes Wynton Kelly on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. For 70 years, Griffin was a jazz giant, and this album, his first as a leader, is among his very best. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis & Johnny Griffin Quintet: Tough Tenors Again 'N' Again

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It's been over a year since Promising Music's last series of lovingly remastered and repackaged titles from the classic MPS catalog of the 1960s/70s, but they're back with two 2012 reissues that, once again, demonstrate the breadth and depth of a German label that ran the gamut from straight-ahead to fusion, and from down-and-dirty blues to the freest of the free. First up is Tough Tenors Again 'N' Again, truly a lost 1970 classic of muscular and unrepentantly down-the-middle jazz from the twin salvo of saxophonists Eddie “Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin. The two tenor men first joined forces in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's

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Once known as the “fastest tenor in the west" for executing fast notes with ease, saxophonist Johnny Griffin leaves one last recording to remember him by with Live At Ronnie Scott's. The album documents a two-night engagement in May 2008, at the legendary London jazz club, to celebrate the artist's eightieth birthday, and features a host of jazz luminaries, all there to pay tribute to a man known as “The Little Giant" of the tenor saxophone.Griffin, who passed away in France in 2008, where he had lived for the past 24 years, was a fixture on the European ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Griffin: Live At Ronnie Scott's

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Live At Ronnie Scott's is likely to draw in a lot of jazz listeners for two reasons. First, this album was the final recording that the late Johnny Griffin--known as a saxophone speed demon--made as a leader. While other unreleased material might make its way to the market at a later date, this is Grffin's last “authorized and artist-approved" release. The second draw has to do with his inter-generational band, featuring multiple marquee names like drummer Billy Cobham and trumpeter Roy Hargrove. While Cobham is often associated with fusion drumming, and Hargrove has played the roles of ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Johnny Griffin: From Johnny Griffin With Love

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Johnny Griffin From Johnny Griffin With Love Storyville Records 2009

Chicago native Johnny Griffin was undoubtedly one of the greatest artists to ever play the tenor saxophone. His technical capacity at high velocity tempi was legendary, earning him the nicknames “fastest gun in the West" and “Little Giant." Not mere empty displays, Griffin's virtuosity served his expressive needs. As Frank Foster has written: “His blazing speed in producing one dynamite phrase after another in rapid-fire succession seemed to be equaled only by the logic in his musical statements--not just a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Griffin: The Best Of Johnny Griffin

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If big things often come in small packages, then Johnny Griffin's case as one of the music's top “tough tenors" really need not be plead. Affectionately nicknamed “Lil' Giant" for his diminutive stature, the late saxophonist was all but diminutive came time to rip through changes and defend his title--as would a proud, prized champion--as the fastest saxophonist roaming the nightclub circuit.

An explosive soloist indeed reputed for his incendiary chops and hearty tone, many often overlook the fact that the Chicago, Illinois expatriate earned the latter part of his sobriquet from those same toughened tenorists with whom ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Johnny Griffin: The Congregation

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A highly regarded recording in the impressive discography of Johnny Griffin, this recently remastered RVG edition of The Congregation is more likely to appeal to the faithful than win many new converts. On this 1957 session, the “world's fastest tenor sets aside his gun-slinging ways in favor of comparatively restrained, straightforward preaching, consisting of some basic, rather predictable harmonic-rhythmic rhetoric and, of course, that distinctive sound.

Griffin's ample and slow Leslie-like vibrato is somewhat reminiscent of Dexter Gordon's but without the long tall one's frequently sardonic send-up of swing-era clichés, replacing them with tension-filled, dramatic alternatives ...



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