Johnny Griffin  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

John Arnold Griffin III (April 24, 1928July 25, 2008) was an American bop and hard bop tenor saxophonist.

Early career

Like many other successful musicians from Chicago, he studied music at DuSable High School under Walter Dyett, starting out on clarinet before moving on to oboe, alto sax and finally, shortly after joining Lionel Hampton's Orchestra, the tenor saxophone alongside Arnett Cobb. While still at high school, at 15 Griffin was playing with T-Bone Walker in a band led by Walker's brother.

He worked in Lionel Hampton's Orchestra (first appearing on a Los Angeles recording in 1945, at the age of 17), leaving to join fellow Hampton band member Joe Morris's Orchestra from 1947 to 1949.

As a leader of his own band, his first Blue Note album Introducing Johnny Griffin in 1956, also featuring Wynton Kelly on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums, brought him critical acclaim. A 1957 Blue Note album A Blowing Session featured him with fellow tenor players John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. He played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers for a few months in 1957, and in the Thelonious Monk Sextet and Quartet (1958). During this period, he recorded a very smooth and stylish set with Clark Terry on Serenade To a Bus Seat featuring the rhythm trio of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones.

At this stage in his career, Griffin was known as the "fastest tenor in the west", for the ease with which he could execute fast note runs with excellent intonation. Subsequent to his three albums for Blue Note, Griffin did not get alone with the label's house engineer Rudy Van Gelder, he recorded for the Riverside label. From 1960 to 1962 he and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis led their own quintet, recording several albums together.

Move to Europe

He went to live in France in 1963, moving to the Netherlands in 1978. Apart from appearing regularly under his own name at jazz clubs such as London's Ronnie Scott's, Griffin became the "first choice" sax player for visiting US musicians touring the continent during the 60s and 70s. He briefly rejoined Monk's groups (an Octet and Nonet) in 1967.

Griffin and Davis met up again in 1970 and recorded Tough Tenors Again 'n' Again, and again with the Dizzy Gillespie Big 7 at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 1965 he recorded some albums with Wes Montgomery. From 1967 to 1969, he formed part of The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, and in the late 70s, recorded with Peter Herbolzheimer And His Big Band, which also included, among others, Nat Adderley, Derek Watkins, Art Farmer, Slide Hampton, Jiggs Whigham, Herb Geller, Wilton Gaynair, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Rita Reys, Jean "Toots" Thielemans, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Grady Tate, and Quincy Jones as arranger. He also recorded with the Nat Adderley Quintet in 1978, having previously recorded with Adderley in 1958.

His last concert, July 21, 2008 was played in Hyères, France. Johnny Griffin died in Availles-Limouzine, France, where he had lived for the past 24 years.

Selected discography





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Johnny Griffin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools