Original release date: April 17th 1956
Re-release date (RVG Edition): February 6th 2007
As a tribute to Johnny Griffin, we are republishing our review of his first album for Blue Note: "Introducing Johnny Griffin"
Overshadowed by the acknowledged greats of jazz tenor saxophone such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin was the equal of most; a fine, fast, bop stylist with a great reach. In this, his first album for Blue Note from 1956, he is heading upward at the beginning of the trajectory that would bring him to international attention. The band is superb with Wynton Kelly (piano), Curly Russell (bass) and Max Roach (drums) backing Johnny Griffin's fine, long solos to produce driving, full value, out front bop that is as fresh now as it was then. The remastering by Rudy Van Gelder, as always, adds the depth that had been lost in earlier transfers to CD format. The result is a fine undervalued album.
The three Johnny Griffin originals "Mil Dew", "Chicago Calling" and "Nice and Easy" are stand out tracks that show the breadth of his composing and playing, from out front fast bop ("Mil Dew") through relaxed uptempo jazz ("Chicago Calling") to low down blues riff ("Nice and Easy"). But the most memorable track is the beautiful take on "Lover Man", the Ramirez/Sherman/Davis ballad that was to become a centre piece of Johnny Griffin's repertoire in years to come. Clearly a major statement in jazz. It is easy to see from this one album alone that he is a major jazz innovator worthy of closer attention than he has been given. It is fitting that this re-release turns the spotlight on his creativity once more.
Born in 1928, Johnny Griffin died on 26th July 2008.
In memory of Johnny Griffin: 1 2 3
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