Three days after his high school graduation he joined Lionel Hampton’s big band playing the Alto sax and it was “Hamp” who encouraged Griff to change to the Tenor, and what a Tenor…His first album as leader came in 1956 on the Blue Note label called simply “Introducing Johnny Griffin” featuring Wynton Kelly on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums, this recording brought Griffin critical acclaim. In 1957 he recorded another hit Blue Note album”A Blowing Session” that features him with fellow tenor players John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. This album is a Hardbop treat, not so much of a Tenor battle here as these three artist have very distinctive sounds and plenty of solo’s abide here. Bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Blakey combine for some killer rhythm, trumpet man Lee Morgan and Wynton Kelly on the Keys make up for some classic Hard Bop. Happy Birthday to one of my favorites!!
This afternoon I justed loaded up my Ipod with several Freddie Hubbard albums which I consider his best. Cracked open a bottle of my favorite red and had an old fashioned jam session right in the comfort of my livingroom. I actually connected the Ipod into my stereo system and let Mr. Bose deliver the goods. I started out with Goin’ Up a 1960 Blue Note album featuring the talents of Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. The rhythm section is top notch and set the stage for Hank and Freddie to square off for some really great improvisations and some classic jazz. Freddie always had a certain identifiable sound that sometimes you just have to hear and re-live, Nice! The next album to kick in was my first introduction to Freddie Hubbard and that would be Red Clay, a 1970 album on the CTI label with Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Ron Carter and Lenny White. This album has maybe a hint of “Rock/Fusion” mixed with a large dose of Hardbop in its musical recipe, makes for some interesting and fresh sounds. To round out this kind of homemade gig I included his album from 1962 “Hub Tones” for Blue Note again. On this album James Spaulding, Herbie Hancock, Reggie Workman and Clifford Jarvis are all in top form and you add the fact that Freddie wrote all the songs on this one and this album becomes very special indeed. Freddie’s talent as composer really comes thru on this set. After a couple of hours and a glass of wine the mood is set for a good time and I have just listened to one of the finest jazz trumpeters to play a gig. Discover!!
Ornette Coleman pioneer of the “Free Jazz” movement in the 50’s. The Shape Of Jazz To Come 1959 Atlantic release was very influential and changed the jazz community. Many years earlier another jazz man was performing “Free Jazz” before it was known as such. Forgotten and only recently attributed as one of the first to play this style of Jazz… Cecil Taylor and his 1956 Blue Note album was pushing the limits of Jazz. These are two great example’s of this exciting style of Jazz.
The Sound of Sonny …1957 was the year he became king. That year he recorded 7 albums as a leader.
Recorded as a teenager with Bud Powell and J.J. Johnson then stints with Miles, Monk, and 2 years with Max Roach groups.
Two recordings to own are Saxophone Colossus a Prestige recording with Tommy Flanagan ( piano), Doug Watkins ( bass ), Max Roach ( drums ). A improvisational masterpiece. Night At The Village Vanguard (Live) A Blue Note 2 CD set featuring Donald Bailey, Wilbar Ware (bass), Pete LaRoca, Elvin Jones ( drums). These recordings are a MUST HAVE in any collection.
At Birdland known as “The Jazz Capital of The World” in Newyork City, there are a couple of really good sessions in April that caught my eye. First on the 7th. thru the 11th the club will be featuring Joe Lovano’s Quartet with 91 years old Hank Jones (piano), Paul Motian (drums), and George Maraz (bass). Then beginning April 14th – the 19th. will be the The Blue Note 7 commemorating the 70th. anniversary of Bluenote. If you are in the area this would be a real treat.
One of my favorite bebop drummers are Art Blakey , most famous as the leader of the Jazz Messengers, a hard driving player who along with Max Roach and Kenny Clarke invented bebop drumming. In The 40’s he worked with Mary Lou Williams, Fletcher Henderson, and Billy Eckstine. By the late 40’s he was backing such greats as Miles Davis, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. His famous group started with him as co-leader along with Horace Silver, they were known as “The Art Blakey Quintet” along with Lou Donaldson, Curley Russell, and the new young trumpet sensation Clifford Brown. The February 1954 Blue Note 2 vol. set A Night In Birdland is a classic and a great place to start to collect this artist. Another classic from him and this great group is Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk a 1957 “Atlantic” recording. Blakey recorded extensively with an ever changing lineup. He had a policy of encouraging young players and many played in his group, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham. and many more. He was quoted on his “Night in Birdland” album as saying “I’m gonna stay with the youngsters. When these get too old I’ll get some younger ones. Keeps the mind active.”
Grant Green an underrated artist whom recorded almost exclusively for Blue Note. He had a very recognizable style in which he didn’t like to play chords. His favorite artist who he listened to were horn players, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. His single note playing style mimics the horn playing giving him his own unique sound. The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark is a 1962 double album from Blue Note and a great place to start listening to him. Idle Moments is a 1963 Blue Note release featuring Bobby Hutcherson, a great pair. Early in his music he played the Gibson ES330TD Full Body guitar. Matador, another very interesting release on the Blue Note label from1964 pairs him with Coltranes rythm section, MCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. Grant Green played Hardbop, Bebop, and Soul Jazz with a virtuosity, and his signature sound is a jazz guitarist who needs to be represented in your Jazz library.