Articles | Popular | Future

RADIO

The Chicago Sound (1956 - 1961)

Read "The Chicago Sound (1956 - 1961)" reviewed by Russell Perry

Because it acted as a safe harbor for the New Orleans diaspora of the teens and twenties, Chicago played a key role in early jazz. By the 1950s, much of jazz was understood in the dialog between cool jazz and hard bop, aka West Coast and East Coast, with Los Angeles and New York playing inordinately important roles. But the Chicago scene was as vital as ever. In this hour, we will return to the “City with Broad Shoulders" and ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Johnny Griffin: The Congregation – 1957

Read "Johnny Griffin: The Congregation – 1957" reviewed by Marc Davis

Well, this is a disappointment. Johnny Griffin is widely regarded as one of the fastest sax players in jazz history. His reputation began with his very first album, Blue Note's Introducing Johnny Griffin in 1956. He solidified his rep the next year with a frantic three-sax attack on A Blowin' Session with John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. So maybe it's not a huge surprise that Griffin wanted to try something different a few months later, in ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Johnny Griffin: A Blowin' Session – Blue Note 1559

Read "Johnny Griffin: A Blowin' Session – Blue Note 1559" reviewed by Marc Davis

Sometimes dumb luck makes all the difference. That's the case with Johnny Griffin's A Blowin' Session. If you're a sax fan, this one's for you--not one, not two, but three red-hot tenors, plus one scorching trumpet, and the legendary Art Blakey smashing the drums behind them. Three tenors? How did that happen? Pure serendipity. Johnny Griffin, the young, new, super-fast saxman, was on his way to record at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey one ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Introducing Johnny Griffin – Blue Note 1533

Read "Introducing Johnny Griffin – Blue Note 1533" reviewed by Marc Davis

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's

Read "Live at Ronnie Scott's" reviewed by Edward Blanco

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Griffin: Live At Ronnie Scott's

Read "Live At Ronnie Scott's" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Johnny Griffin: From Johnny Griffin With Love

Read "Johnny Griffin: From Johnny Griffin With Love" reviewed by Greg Thomas

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Griffin: The Best Of Johnny Griffin

Read "The Best Of Johnny Griffin" reviewed by Martin Gladu

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Griffin: The Congregation

Read "The Congregation" reviewed by Samuel Chell

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 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Bush Dance & Pisces

Read "Bush Dance & Pisces" reviewed by Russ Musto

These two new discs present three excellent Griffin sessions, one each from the '60's, '70s and '80s, documenting various aspects of his mastery of the tenor saxophone and the jazz idiom in remarkably diverse settings. Bush Dance combines a 1978 all-star date featuring the stellar rhythm section of pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Albert “Tootie Heath plus percussionist Kenneth Nash and special guest guitarist George Freeman, from which the disc takes its title, along with 1983's Call ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Griffin & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Pisces

Read "Pisces" reviewed by Derek Taylor

The early '60s was a golden age for tenor tandems. Towering team-ups like Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, and Eddie “Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin were illustrative of the Zeitgeist. Such a simple formula, joining the talents of two titans on that most popular of jazz horns, but it's one that consistently yielded both artistic and financial profit. For a time the partnership of Davis and Griffin stood at the front of the pack.

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Griffin: Johnny Griffin

Read "Johnny Griffin" reviewed by David Rickert

Johnny Griffin was a bop-influenced player who was capable of handling the rigors of both Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and a stint with Thelonious Monk. Often given credit as the world's fastest tenor player (at least for a time), Griffin enjoyed a good tenor battle as much as the next guy, but he also could deliver a solid quartet album such as this one.

1956's Johnny Griffin is pretty typical mid-fifties fare: a few standards, a couple of ...


Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.