2. Woody 'n You
4. 63rd Street Theme
5. Tickle Toe
6. Wade in the Water
7. Straight, No Chaser
8. Full House
9. Autumn Leaves
Johnny Griffin - Tenor sax
Kenny Drew - Piano (tracks 1, 2)
Wilbur Ware - Bass (tracks 1, 2)
Philly Joe Jones - Drums (tracks 1, 2)
Thelonious Monk - Piano (track 3)
Ahmed Abdul-Malik - Bass (track 3)
Roy Haynes - Drums (track 3)
Blue Mitchell - Trumpet (track 4)
Julian Priester - Trombone (tracks 4, 6)
Wynton Kelly - Piano (tracks 4, 8)
Sam Jones - Bass (track 4)
Albert "Tootie" Heath - Drums (track 4)
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis - Tenor sax (tracks 5, 7)
Junior Mance - Piano (tracks 5, 7)
Larry Gales - Bass (tracks 5, 7)
Ben Riley - Drums (tracks 5, 7)
Clark Terry, Bob Bryant - Trumpets (track 6)
Matthew Gee - Trombone (track 6)
Pat Patrick - Alto sax (track 6)
Edwin Williams - Tenor sax (track 6)
Charlie Davis - Baritone sax (track 6)
Harold Mabern - Piano (track 6)
Bob Cranshaw - Bass (track 6)
Charlie Persip - Drums (track 6)
Wes Montgomery - Guitar (track 8)
Paul Chambers - Bass (track 8)
Jimmy Cobb - Drums (track 8)
Ronnie Mathews - Piano (track 9)
Ray Drummond - Bass (track 9)
Keith Copeland - Drums (track 9)
Griffin, the ‘Little Giant’, was never merely a virtuosic speed merchant.
He married instead a fearsome technical prowess with a raunchier down
home element that ensured that his music making never became rabble
rousing of aridly versatile. This ‘Best Of’ selection shows the how
and the why of it.
It’s surely permissible to drive through that warhorse Cherokee
as Griffin does, complete with his throwaway quotes, being driven
on by a cooking rhythm section anchored by Philly Joe Jones. Pianist
Kenny Drew steers a Scylla and Charybdis course between bop and bluesy
lines, much as Griffin does in fact. Woody 'n You showcases
the band’s all-round competence: Jones’s percussive variety is a tonic,
and there’s a fine dialogue between Griffin and Wilbur Ware, the rock
solid bassist. Rhythm-a-ning sees a meeting with Monk, whose
first live album this was. It’s a record remarkable for the spaces
Monk grants his soloist; Monk effectively converts his quartet to
a temporary trio. Griffin’s weakness for pat quotes is evident but
not too distracting.
63rd Street Theme is a solid blues graced by Blue Mitchell
amongst others. The tension ratchets and a righteous groove is cooking
by the end, despite some silly Gershwin quotes in the solo by Griffin.
The first pairing of the two tenor line-up of Griffin and Lockjaw
Davis comes in the 1960 Tickle Toe. Junior Mance is the marvellous
pianist and his lexicon of traditions is second to none. His refined
touch is a delight as well, and he manages to steal the honours from
the front line team without ever seeking to do so. Jaws attacks raucously
and Griff comes on with his I Found A New Baby quotations,
just in case you weren’t sure.
The famous Gospel shouter Wade in the Water had to be here,
and it does act as a bridge into a ferocious Straight, No Chaser,
in which the two tenors swap phrases with daemonic commitment.
He was working with Miles Davis’s rhythm section when he cut Full
House: Wes Montgomery was the guitar interloper. For the last
track we leap forward to 1978. He is as fast and fluent as ever.
This is a very decent selection of Griffin’s work. He kept fast company,
which the disc also reflects.
See also an additional review by Tony Augarde.