Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Johnny Griffin, One of the Greatest, is Gone

The great jazz tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, who played with many of the greats but chose to live in France, died on Friday. He was 80. The cause of death was unclear. He was found dead on Friday morning in the music room of his home in Mauprevoir in western France by his wife Miriam. Griffin began playing with Lionel Hampton in 1945 and moved on to play with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Art Blakely in the 50's and 60's.. The 1958 album he cut with Coltrane and Blakely called "A Blowing Session" remains among his signature works. "Jazz," said Griffin, " is music made by and for people who have chosen to feel good, in spite of conditions."
All that Jazz did an excellent commentary on Griffin. Here's a sample:

Back in 1963, despite the solid reputation he had established as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Thelonious Monk’s group (and as co-leader of a band with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis), Griffin felt forced to flee to Europe.

During the Sixties, Griffin was one of an elite corps of resident American jazzmen in Europe, a group that included Kenny Clarke, Arthur Taylor, Horace Parlan, Kenny Drew, and, of course, Dexter Gordon (“Dexter’s family to me,” he smiles). He had no trouble finding work there. He played in radio and television studio bands, was installed for long engagements in clubs such as the Blue Note in Paris, played in countless jazz festivals, and continued his recording career unabated. He did everything but return to the United States. And he missed it: “Europeans love jazz very much, but American audiences respond to the music in a really special way.”

Johnny Griffin’s triumphant homecoming in 1978, coming on the heels of Dexter’s, ended 15 years of exclusively expatriate life in Europe. The occasion was one of jazz’s happiest, most heartwarming events in memory. Griffin found himself playing to an entirely new generation of fans, while his older fans discovered the tenor saxophonist to be playing better than ever."

for the full story, see All That Jazz.

Adam Bernstein, staff writer of the Washington Post, said of Griffin:

"The Chicago-born Griffin emerged as a top-flight player in the 1950s, when he performed with saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Thelonious Monk's quartet and drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

Mr. Griffin was a masterful improviser in hard bop, a swaggering, blues-inflected branch of swing music played at breakneck speed.

New York Times jazz critic John S. Wilson once wrote of Mr. Griffin's skill that he "plays the tenor saxophone with long, light, flowing lines that build to tremendously forceful passages, which despite their fierce energy and the power of his attack, always remain completely controlled and smoothly executed."


Anonymous said...

what are your favorites of his?
keep the enlightenment coming
we love this music/poetry/political slant
never know what's around the corner when you're checking out the daddy's blog
I'll just keep coming back for more :)

MacDaddy said...

anon: My favorites are any work he did as a member of the Thelonius Monk quartet, which included Art Blakely, John Coltrane and Monk. The album is called "A Blowing Session," I believe. Something like that. I think he showed himself to be the equal to Coltrane, at least on this album. Tomorrow, If I can find this CD, i'm going to play it all day. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

Although I never heard of Johnny Griffen in someways I can relate to a legend passing when Marvin Gaye passed away I remember how I felt on that day empty and at loss. I grew up listening to Marvin Gaye's music like you grew up listening to Mr. Griffen. May they both rest in peace and make that heavenly music together up above in the clouds beyond this universe.

MacDaddy said...

aggkindaguy: I, too, grew up listening to Marvin. I share your well-stated sentiments about him. Come again.