Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 26 April 1921, Dallas TX; d 24 April 2008 of complications of Parkinson's disease) Reeds, leader, composer, teacher. He obtained a university degree in 1942, played with the Army Air Force Orchestra '44, with Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman late '40s; he wrote the famous 'Four Brothers' for Herman, and much else. He gigged with the western swing band of Spade Cooley in 1950, then back to jazz with the Lighthouse All Stars (the house band at the Hermosa Beach CA club; see Howard Rumsey), Shorty Rogers, etc. He played a lovely famous solo clarinet on Rogers's 'Martians Go Home'. There were many record dates and compositions; larger works included 'Pharaoh', 'Suspensions' was recorded by Gunther Schuller on Columbia; he led his own trio, performed his popular 'The Train And The River' on the TV special The Sound Of Jazz '57 and at the Newport Jazz Festival '58 (film Jazz On A Summer's Day '60).

He played baritone sax, contributed arrangements and tunes to the uniquely beautiful LP Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre '59 on Verve, with Konitz and Hal McKusick on altos, Ted Brown and Warne Marsh on tenors (Marsh and Konitz take most of the solos), Bill Evans on piano. Having won polls on clarinet in the late '50s he gave up other reeds, but returned to them c.1965, and was active as a music educator as well as keeping up own studies. His many compositions included chamber music, larger pieces, and ballet music. He was taken for granted by the public for many years, if not by critics; hindsight reveals a career marked by much tonal beauty. He recorded with Bob Brookmeyer, Herb Ellis, Shelley Manne, many others; albums included Tenors West and West Coast Scene with composer/arranger Marty Paich. He wrote arrangements for Sonny Stitt, and Anita O'Day on Verve.

His own LPs began with Capitol sessions in 1954-5, on Atlantic '56 with six to nine pieces followed by trio sets '56-8 including Western Suite. A nine-piece band played songs from The Music Man '58 on Atlantic, one of the best of the vogue for jazzmen playing Broadway scores, Meredith Willson's tunes suiting Giuffre's approach. Many albums on Verve included the quartet Ad Lib '59 and In Person '60. 'Piece For Clarinet And Strings' and 'Mobiles' '59 were recorded in Baden-Baden conducted by Wolfran Röhrig (reissued with Konitz tracks '96 in two-CD set on Verve as Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre, four LPs on two CDs). Trio sets Seven Pieces and The Easy Way '59 included Jim Hall. Fusion and Thesis on Verve and In Concert on the Italian Unique Jazz label have the trio with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, as has Emphasis, Stuttgart 1961 on hat Art; Free Fall '62 on Columbia included that trio and Giuffre clarinet solos. On later LPs he played soprano, alto, tenor saxophones, clarinet and flute, including Quiet Song '74, a trio with Bley and guitarist Bill Connors (b 24 September 1949, Los Angleles; recorded with Chick Corea on Return to Forever's Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy on ECM). Giuffre's two-disc trio set Mosquito Dance on DJM was also two LPs on Choice: Music For People, Birds, Butterflies And Mosquitos '72 and River Chant '75. IAI Festival '78 on the Improvising Artists label had a quartet with Bley, Connors and Konitz.

In the nine years before '63 Giuffre made 15 albums as a leader; between then and '83 he made four. He worked as a teacher, saying, 'I got into the free jazz. And I didn't use drums. So, some people didn't think it was jazz.' The beautiful Thesis and Fusion sets were reissued in a two-CD set on ECM titled 1961. Albums since '83 include Quasar, Liquid Dancers and Dragonfly, quartet sets on Soul Note, all with Peter Levin on keyboards, Bob Nieske on electric bass and Randy Kaye on drums. Eiffel '87 on CELP preserved live concert duets with André Jaume on bass clarinet and sax, a duo also recorded on Momentum on hatology, made in '88 and finally issued '97. Two volumes of Diary Of A Trio '89 on Owl reunited Giuffre with Bley, who had passed through an electric phase and returned to acoustic piano, and Swallow, who had switched to electric bass; their music now included standards and was as beautiful as ever: there was more evidence on Conversations With A Goose '93 on Soul Note, made in Milan.