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Jimmy Giuffre

From Academic Kids

James Peter Giuffre (born 1921) is an American jazz saxophone and clarinet player.

Giuffre first came to attention as an arranger for Woody Herman's big band, and would continue to write creative, unusual arrangements throughout his career.

Giuffre was a member of Shorty Rogers' groups before going solo. Giuffre played clarinet, as well as tenor and baritone saxophones, but eventually focused on clarinet. His style is unique and distinctive, "having been self-formed, the only possible precedent having been the clarinet of Lester Young." [1] (http://users.bestweb.net/~msnyder/clarinet/giuffre.htm) His early music was sometimes classified as cool jazz. Giuffre's early saxophone work has been favorably compared to Lester Young, as well.

Giuffre was a central figure in so-called West Coast Jazz.

His first trio consisted of Giuffre, guitarist Jim Hall and double bassist Jim Atlas. They had a minor hit in 1957 when Giuffre's "The Train and the River" was featured on the television special The Sound of Jazz. This trio explored what Giuffre dubbed "blues-based folk jazz"

When Atlas left the trio, Giuffre replaced him with valve tromboneist Bob Brookmeyer. This unusual instrumentation was partly inspired by Claude Debussy's Syrinx.

In 1961, Giuffre formed a new trio with piano player Paul Bley and double bassist Steve Swallow. This group received little attention when they were active, but were later cited by some fans and musicians as among the most important groups in jazz history. They explored free jazz not in the loud, aggressive mode of Albert Ayler or Archie Shepp, but with a hushed, quiet focus sharing more in common with chamber music. The trio's explorations of melody, harmony and rhythm are still as striking and radical as any in jazz. Thom Jurek has written that this trio's recordigns are "one of the most essential documents regarding the other side of early-'60s jazz." [2] (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:edug6jp771e0~T1)

Giuffre, Bley and Swallow eventually explored wholly improvised music, several years ahead of the free improvisation boom in Europe. Jurek writes that their final record, "Free Fall was such radical music, no one, literally no one, was ready for it and the group disbanded shortly thereafter on a night when they made only 35 cents apiece for a set." [3] (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:59k9kentjq7v~T1)

Though he's continued teaching, recording and performing, Giuffre has had a lower public profile in his later years, though he has recorded with Joe McPhee, and revived the trio with Bley and Swallow. He has taught at the New England Conservatory of Music.

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