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1961 by Jimmy Giuffre 3

Composer and multi-reed and flute player Jimmy Giuffre remains a somewhat marginal figure in the jazz continuum, which is odd/a darn shame considering his talent as well as his genius/curse at being ahead of the curve. In the mid-to-late 50s, when the flames of East Coast Bebop was at odds with what was then known as the West Coast Sound and the first ominous rumblings of Free Jazz were asserting themselves, Giuffre was odd man out. While East and West Coasts sniped at each other, he was working on his own style of "quiet" jazz with trios of odd-for-the-time instrumentation (one group was JG, a trombonist and a guitarist, no drummer), which swung but forsook the extreme blare of the avant-garde and the wail of bebop, emphasizing hushed, delicate interplay and silence. In several ways, JG anticipated the Chicago AACM of the 60s and the ECM chamber jazz styles of the 70s and 80s. In the early 60s, The JG3 was JG on focusing solely on clarinet, pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow, who while popular in Europe, broke up after a particularly dispiriting club gig in NYC’s West Village where each member made something like 35 cents each. They recorded two albums for Verve and one for Columbia Records, neither of which set the world on fire sales-wise and soon went out of print. ECM, bless them, reached into the vaults of Verve and reissued the 1961 albums Fusion and Thesis in one 2-disc package. Both feature nearly all original tunes (no hackneyed standards!) by JG, Paul Bley and his then-wife Carla. This music is quiet (as in not-loud-volume), cerebral, wonderfully subtle and full of detailed nuance in the manner of a Beethoven string quartet or the groups AMM, Oregon and the Art Ensemble of Chicago in their quieter moments - The 3 virtually challenges and requires the listener to get in close and REALLY listen. Bley, like Thelonious Monk, is one of jazz’s great minimalists, saying a lot with the minimum of notes and Swallow, though only 20 at the time of these recordings, had the beginnings of one of the most distinctively sinuous bass styles in jazz. Jimmy Giuffre is one of those musicians - like Lee Konitz, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn and Ned Rothenberg, most of whom have been influenced by him - who has learned from the deep tradition of jazz reed-playing and forged his a sound genuinely his own, emotionally committed but forgoing obvious sentimentality. ANYone who values "quiet jazz" NEEDS to here The JG3.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jimmy Giuffre 3
  • CD Title: 1961
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 1992 / 2002
  • Record Label: ECM
  • Musicians: Jimmy Giuffre: clarinet; Paul Bley: piano; Steve Swallow: acoustic bass.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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