Sunday, July 27, 2008

Johnny Griffin (1928 - 2008)

Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin passed away last Friday at his home in Mauprevoir, France, a few hours before a scheduled concert.

A pioneer of 'hard bop', the high-speed precision of his playing served him throughout his long career, performing with all the top names in jazz.

"I like to play fast. I get excited, and I have to sort of control myself, restrain myself. But when the rhythm section gets cooking, I want to explode."
--Johnny Griffin (quote via The Hard Bop Homepage)

I first became aware of Griffin several years back, after stumbling across his 'Little Giant' LP, from 1959. ('Little Giant' was his nickname)

I immediately fell in love with his sound, especially on the album's opening track, 'Olive Refractions'.

Another great one gone.
When it comes to jazz, I'm an enthusiast, not anything close to an expert. - - So although I can't authoritatively tell you what made Johnny Griffin great, I can tell you that he's hot.

See also:
- An obituary at

- Johnny Griffin entry at AllMusic.Com

-You can check out his first four albums in a tribute at Zakkorama

- Below, ▼ a 1971 video clip from French TV, playing with Art Taylor (drums), René Urtreger (piano), and Alby Cullaz (bass).

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