Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday Afternoon with The Jimmy Giuffre 3

Around 20 years ago, my introduction to Jimmy Giuffre came by the way of The Jimmy Giuffre 3. I used to listen to the LP at the Wellington City Library. The sound of this group was so different to what I was used – maybe it was the lack of drums – but whatever it was, I found it refreshing. Eventually I got the CD and use to listen to it quite a bit and, naturally, it led to other recordings by Giuffre – most notably his 60s trio with Steve Swallow and Paul Bley which became one of my favorite groups....it still is. I return to 60s trio's recordings quite regularly, most recently Emanem's 2CD reissue of the live recordings from Europe (and I highly recommend checking them out if you haven't), but I can't remember the last time I listened to The Jimmy Giuffre 3 from start to end. Today it got an appropriate number of spins - three.

I surprised how well I remembered the album, in particular “Gotta Dance,” “Two Kinds of Blues,” “The Song Is You” and “The Train & The River” still seemed quite fresh in my mind. I really enjoy the balance and rapport of this trio – the weight of contributions from Giuffre, Peña and Hall and how the individual tones blend are key to the ensemble sound. It's more “organized” than I remember and probably more so than I like these days (maybe that was one of the qualities that appealed to me initially... who knows), but it does give a focus/direction to each piece. I definitely remember enjoying the tone Giuffre got from the baritone, tenor and clarinet (especially the clarinet). A lot of saxophonists and clarinetists frown upon it, but enjoy hearing the breath in the tone.

I'm not sure what had me reaching for The Jimmy Giuffre 3 this afternoon, but it's been fun.

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