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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Four Classic Albums plus...

Avid AMSC 948





Tracks 1-10: ‘Jimmy Giuffre’

1. Four Brothers
2. Someone To Watch Over Me
3. Sultana
4. A Ring-Tail Monkey
5. Nutty Pine
6. Wrought Of Iron
7. Do It!
8. All For You
9. Iranic
10. I Only Have Eyes For You
Tracks 12-20: ‘Tangents In Jazz’

11. Scintilla I
12. Finger Snapper
13. Lazy Tones
14. Scintilla II
15. Chirpin’ Time
16. This Is My Beloved
17. The Leprechaun
18. Scintilla III
19. Rhetoric
20. Scintilla IV
Tracks 21-22: Bonus Tracks from‘The Sound Of Jazz’

21. The Train And The River
22. Blues

Tracks 1-9: ‘The Jimmy Giuffre 3’

1. Gotta Dance
2. Two Kinds Of Blues
3. The Song Is You
4. Crazy She Calls Me
5. Voodoo
6. My All
7. That’s The Way It Is
8. Crawdad Suite
9. The Train And The River
Tracks 10-13: ‘Historic Jazz Concert At Music Inn’

10. Blues In E-Flat
11. In A Mellotone
12. The Quiet Time
13. Body And Soul


In pop music there are plenty of "one-hit wonders" - and the same phenomenon occurs occasionally in jazz (as with Humphrey Lyttelton''s Bad Penny Blues). Jimmy Giuffre never got a recording into the pop charts but, if you mention his name to the average jazz fan, they would almost certainly recognise him as the man behind The Train and the River. The tune played by Giuffre's trio was one of the outstanding features of the famous 1959 film jazz on a Summer's Day - perhaps because it captured the relaxed, cool atmosphere of the Newport Jazz Festival and also because it is one of the catchiest themes in jazz music.

The tune crops up twice on this compilation: once from the 1957 TV programme "The Sound of Jazz" and again from the preceding year's album The Jimmy Giuffre Three (although sadly not the film soundtrack version). It deserves two hearings, as it is one of the classic "railway" compositions, a genre which also includes such tunes as Duke Ellington's Midnight Express and Happy-Go-Lucky Local.

Of course, there is much more to Jimmy Giuffre than this one composition, although its tranquil approach is typical of much of Giuffre's work. Admittedly he worked for the extrovert Woody Herman Band but his best-known composition for that ensemble - Four Brothers - demonstrates the subtlety that imbued much of his music. In fact he seemed absolutely at home with the cool West Coast scene. Despite some occasional jazzy outbursts, he almost made understatement a way of life.

As the title of this double CD implies, it comprises four whole LPs from the mid-fifties, with a couple of bonus tracks (21 and 22 on the first CD) from the aforementioned TV programme. Whether playing clarinet, tenor sax or baritone sax, Giuffre seldom overdid things, preferring a calmly economical approach which did good by stealth instead of shouting its qualities from the rooftops.

The first three LPs were all by small groups playing what might best be described as chamber jazz. The first CD displays a persistent interest in subtle counterpoint - mostly between Jimmy and trumpeters Jack Sheldon or Shorty Rogers. And several tracks - like A Ring-Tail Monkey - have the same folky quality that distinguished The Train and the River. The trio tracks sound particularly slimmed-down, as guitarist Jim Hall often stops playing during Jimmy Giuffre's solos, leaving him accompanied only by bassist Ralph Pena.

The final LP - Historic Jazz Concert at Music Inn - is the odd-one-out, capturing a 1956 concert which brought together a deliberately diverse range of jazz musicians playing four long tracks. Blues in E flat puts Giuffre alongside fellow-clarinettist Pee Wee Russell; In a Mellotone has him on tenor sax with cornettist Rex Stewart (a great contrast between styles!); and The Quiet Time puts him with vibraphonist Teddy Charles. Giuffre is not even on the closing Body and Soul, which features flautist Herbie Mann.

Once again, the Avid label has put together an intriguing package at bargain price, which is worth anyone's money. But more than that, this collection reminds us of Jimmy Giuffre's importance as a jazz musician - an importance which might be overlooked because of the reticence and subtlety of much of his playing.

Tony Augarde


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