152

Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's 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 jazz scene. Drummer Billy Cobham and trumpeter Roy Hargrove also spend a good deal of time in Europe, and join Griffin for this last session, along with bassist Reggie Johnson, a transplanted American who currently lives in Switzerland, and British pianists David Newton and James Pearson.

The session opens up with a particularly lively rendition of the Lester Young tribute, "Lester Leaps In," with Hargrove and Cobham both enjoying solo moments as Griffin tees off in his usual speedy style. On the almost thirteen-minute follow-up, "When We Were One," the tempo slows to a crawl, as both horn men present a bit of tenderness, their performances playing off each other with an engaging, beautiful melody. Newton is simply superb here, with a warm solo roundly appreciated by the supportive audience. "Mentor" is the other ballad piece, featuring Hargrove taking a decidedly soft approach, followed by another piano embrace from Newton.

Pianist Paul Kuhn makes a guest appearance on the jazz standard "How Deep Is The Ocean," sadly delivering a lackluster vocal performance on a piece where neither Griffin nor Hargrove are featured. Newton and Griffin combine for some tasteful soloing on "The JAMFS Are Coming," which also features Johnson—inexplicably excluded from the personnel listing on the CD tray card—with some of his best bass lines.

Griffin's aptly titled "Hot Sake" delivers a dozen minutes of fire, with successive sweltering heatwaves coming from Hargrove, Newton, Johnson and Cobham. Griffin could not have known that Live At Ronnie Scott's would turn out to be his swan song; as such, this belated birthday bash is, in essence, a parting birthday gift from Johnny to his fans.

Track Listing: Lester Leaps In; When We Were One; The Blues Walk; Mentor; How Deep Is The Ocean; The JAMFS Are Coming; Hot Sake.

Personnel: Johnny Griffin: tenor saxophone; Roy Hargrove: trumpet, flugelhorn; James Pearson: piano (1); David Newton: piano (2-4, 6, 7); Billy Cobham: drums; Paul Kuhn: piano (5), vocals (5).

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: In + Out Records


Shop

More Articles

Read On A Monday Evening CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read Soulmation CD/LP/Track Review Soulmation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 22, 2017
Read Feather CD/LP/Track Review Feather
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read Lookin' East CD/LP/Track Review Lookin' East
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 22, 2017
Read The Voice of Robert Desnos CD/LP/Track Review The Voice of Robert Desnos
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 22, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Miles Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Miles Smiles
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 2, 2016
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Solo Gemini" CD/LP/Track Review Solo Gemini
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 1, 2016
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by John Sharpe
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Stereotomic" CD/LP/Track Review Stereotomic
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 18, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!