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Johnny Griffin & Martial Solal: In & Out

AAJ Staff By

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One would think from a provincial American perspective that Johnny Griffin and Martial Solal would have performed together numerous times, let alone having recorded frequently. After all, they're European, aren't they?

Alas, such is not the case. Griffin and Solal have performed together only two or three times. They have recorded together never. Until now. That's what makes "In & Out" an instantly classic recording, and one of the more masterfully performed of the year, no doubt.

Exhibiting a degree of comfort and intellectual fertility in a format that's truly more than a duo—rather, it's a dialog—Griffin and Solal make up for lost time with a thorough musical discussion throughout two standards, including one of Monk's, and their own compositions. More important than making up for lost time, though, is the exposure that these two too-seldom-heard jazz masters can gain among American listeners.

Known for his incredible speed and facility on the instrument, Griffin hasn't slowed down as much as matured. He shows a confidence that implies ideas instead of ripping through them. Solal, however, reminds listeners of the uniqueness of his style, jabbing here, stride-like there and overall aggressive in his attack.

From Griffin's first lead-in on "You Stepped Out Of A Dream," the listener is assured of mastery and experience. Solal, spare and choppy in his inimitable accompaniment, alternates through stride suggestions and rapidly phrased assaults and pauses. Ironically, Griffin seems to keep the calm of the proceedings while Solal is the one who shakes things up, unpredictably going angular in his attack or dreaming up spur-of-the-moment substitutions like a reticent Tatum.

From a compositional aspect, the listener can sort out the fairly obvious differences between Griffin and Solal, in spite of their mutual comprehension of the other's experience and technique. Griffin's tunes bespeak comfort and melody and stroll and balladic form, while Solal haunts and slinks and considers and constructs leaps of intervals that another musician might never create in quite the same context.

In many ways, Griffin's tone and use of implication are reminiscent of Solal's work with Lucky Thompson in the 1950's and 1960's, while Solal's dissonance and dramatic lunges, especially of course on "Well, You Needn't," recall Griffin's tenure with Thelonious Monk in the fifties.

Too seldom recorded, Griffin and Solal have revealed their mutual interests by teaming up on "In & Out." At the same time, they have recorded a truly classic album that collectors will seek for years in the future.

Track Listing:

You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Come With Me; In & Out; Hey Now; L'Oreille Est Hardie; When You're In My Arms; Neutralisme; Well, You Needn't


Johnny Griffin, tenor sax; Martial Solal, piano

| Record Label: Dreyfus Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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