Thursday, August 12, 2010

Listen and Weep

For a guy who could blow anyone off the stage (or out of a recording studio) with the sheer velocity of his playing, Johnny Griffin also knew how to take it way, way down. What made Griffin truly great was his seeming awareness of each note he played, applying the appropriate heft and warmth to achieve a tone that coated the air. The notes could fly fast, but they all had weight, each packing a visceral punch. I love how he takes his time here, making sure every musical utterance counts. (Ok, I'm not so crazy about that hoary blues riff at the conclusion of his solo, but he makes up for it with his concluding Ben Webster-ish flutter, a subtly beautiful homage. )

I also enjoy the non Duke-like arrangement by Kornel Fekete-Kova with that nifty sax interlude following Griffin's improvisation, and the obviously practiced Budapest Jazz Orchestra with its brace of flugelhornists. Discerning expats like Griffin could always find the cream that the Continent offered.

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