Thursday, February 19, 2009


There are many improvising musicians who have not received the recognition they so richly deserve. Names such as Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, and Jabbo Smith have contributed greatly to the direction and the development of jazz and improvised music. Sometimes their contributions are misunderstood, sometimes they're overlooked, sometimes blatantly ignored. There are many reasons why this has happened. The bottom line is: they deserve more: more attention, more respect, more exposure to listeners today.

One such improvising musician deserving much more acclaim is Jimmy Giuffre. He was instrumental in the development of third stream music (as Gunther Schuller called it). He perfected the piano-less ensemble and defined the multi-reed musician in the sixties. He proved "free" didn't have to mean "loud", "fast" or "aggressive".

His reputation was somewhat tarnished in the eighties when he recorded a couple of Soulnote recordings using electronic keyboards and electric bass. This was at the time of the resurgence of the neo-classicist movement in jazz (think: Wynton). Giuffre was seen as selling out. It wasn’t and he didn't.

What we have here is a trio recording that does include the piano (with a connection to a previous post) of Paul Bley and the electric bass of Steve Swallow. The concert is taken from the 1992 Heineken Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. The first long piece (almost 30 minutes) is an improvisation including “All the Things You Are”, followed by other pieces (“I Can’t Get Started”, Playball”, “Possibility”, “Goodbye” and “Blues”).


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