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.
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 suddenlyBAM!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.
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.
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.
what Les Tomkins had to say about these sessions at the time:
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.
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