Sunday, May 11, 2008


Although it happened a mere two weeks back I just found out...r.i.p. avant garde jazz pioneer Jimmy Giuffre, a man whose career spanned the opiate-swing of the late-forties Woody Herman band to some of the starkest "new thing" music of the early-sixties and beyond that continues to enthrall at least ape-brained arrested-development types like myself this far down the line. An underrated master who never really did get his dues for helping to create the avant jazz genre, Giuffre, along with George Russell, Lennie Tristano and Cecil Taylor, was pretty much the standard-bearer for what eventually would be known as free jazz in the fifties even if Giuffre's fame was certainly eclipsed by the likes of Russell, Taylor and of course Sun Ra. True, without Giuffre there still would have been John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman making their turn-of-the-decade nova music, but someone hadda've been there to make the world ready for them, eh? And what a better pathfinder could there have been than Giuffre, who at one moment could be seen on national television with Sarah Vaughn and at the next recording some hot West Coast avant spew with or without the likes of Jack Sheldon! If you're so inclined, try to pay Giuffre's memory proper homage by spinning such necessary avant garde platters as Shelly Manne's THE THREE AND THE TWO (side one recorded '54 with Giuffre and trumpeter Shorty Rogers) and the always amazing "chamber jazz" effort FREE FALL (from '62 with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, on Columbia).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great clip, Chris.
By the way, Guiffre's influence was felt quite widely. When John Mayall went through that "drummerless" phase circa 1969-1971 ("California", "Room to Move", etc.) he credited Guiffre's drummerless trios for giving him that idea.
Guiffre's various performances with Paul Bley are for me some of the most timeless jazz ever.

Bill S.