Jazz Professional               

Johnny Griffin

Live in London

Live in London
(Harkit Records HRKCD 8061)
Harkit Records

Introduction by Ronnie Scott All the Things You Are Wee Dot Exactly Like You Straight, No Chaser Little Man, You've Had a Busy Day Excerpt from Interview with Johnny Griffin

Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone; Stan Tracey, piano; Malcolm Cecil, bass;
Jackie Dougan, drums
Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London in December 1963.
Recorded by Les Tomkins
This CD has never been issued before!

Back in the 1970s, when I was playing in Peter Herbolzheimer's band in Germany, Johnny Griffin joined us on one of our Jazz Gala tours. Two of the jazz stars featured on the tour were Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan, so it was like being in jazz heaven, and I could listen to the three of them every night. Johnny's playing never failed to amaze and delight me on that tour. In his interview with Les Tomkins on the final track of this CD Johnny says, I feel so much fire... and I guess that accurately sums up his playing.

The CD kicks off with All the Things You Are, and The Little Giant is smooth, very smooth, to start with. Then his playing becomes more fluid and develops and develops until suddenly—BAM!—he's like a man possessed. Thousands of notes pour out of the horn, every one of them golden, every one of them has meaning, and, yes, soul. The little giant has grown enormously in stature and you fall back in your chair in astonishment. Well, I thought I'd heard him play fast numbers before, but never like this. The track is fifteen minutes long, and Stan and Malcolm both deliver astounding solos, too, but when Johnny comes back on he is filled with dynamite once more. An amazing, thrilling experience. Sure feeling a lot of fire there.

The rest of the CD is just as amazing. In Exactly Like You he changes. Now he's the Quiet Man, all fluffy and confidential, taking an extended solo in the middle without the rhythm section, keeping up the tension throughout, and the pace, until they punch their way back in again.

Little Man, You've Had a Busy Day just about sums Johnny up. It's slow and full of love, passion, feeling, with a hint of that fire flaring up at all the right moments. You have to listen to this one twice to hear what he is telling you.

Here's what Les Tomkins had to say about these sessions at the time:

Griffin's return
Heard in several sets at Ronnie Scott's, the fiery Johnny Griffin was all we expected and more. Racing through the changes, pouring out inspired phrases on "All The Things," Monk's "Rhythm-a-Ning" and other themes, he also evinced a welcome restraint. Even on 'up' tunes there were spells of 'soft-sell.' Superb relaxation on "Exactly Like You"—and "Body And Soul" was memorable. Tracey, Cecil and Dougan, veterans of many an American encounter, were rhythmically everything Griffin deserved.

A superb recording, and you get to hear Ronnie Scott giving a variation on one of his famous club announcements at the beginning, We regret that So-and-So cannot appear tonight as he has been suddenly taken drunk.

Ron Simmonds

(Contact Andrew Geddes)
Tel: 01689 899012

Further information available from:
Harkit Entertainment Ltd.,
Publicity Department,
P.O.Box 617,
Bushey Heath,
United Kingdom.

Telephone: 020-8959 1888
Facsimile: 020-8421 8463


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