Johnny Griffin

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Johnny Griffin, 2007

John Arnold Griffin III (* 24. April 1928 in Chicago , Illinois ; † 25. July 2008 in Availles-Limouzine , France ) was an American jazz - tenor saxophonist . Griffin had the reputation of the "fastest saxophonist in the world" and was also called "Volcano" or (because of his small body size) "The Little Giant" in jazz circles.


Griffin grew up on the South Side of Chicago and went to DuSable High School . At the age of 12 he started playing the alto saxophone. At school he was tutored in the early 1940s by high school band instructor Captain Walter Dyett , who had trained both singers Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington and saxophonists Gene Ammons and Von Freeman . During this time he was able to perform with blues legends like T-Bone Walker , Memphis Slim and Muddy Waters and jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald , Dinah Washington and Betty Carter . At first he oriented his style on calm ballads like the saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster . However, when he saw the BeBop revolutionaries Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in Billy Eckstine's band in 1945 , he approached their playing style.

In 1946, three days after graduating from high school, he was hired by Lionel Hampton for his big band and switched to the tenor saxophone. From 1947 to 1950 he was a member of the rhythm and blues band of Joe Morris , which also included Elmo Hope , Percy Heath and Philly Joe Jones , and also appeared with Gene Ramey , Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell . He played with Jo Jones in 1950 and with Arnett Cobb in 1951, before serving in the US Army in an army band in Hawaii from 1951 to 1953 .

After that he made his first own album in Chicago. In 1956 Griffin went to New York City , where he worked on an album for the Blue Note label with John Coltrane and Hank Mobley . From March to October 1957 he was a member of Art Blakeys legendary Jazz Messengers , in the summer of 1958 of Thelonious Monk Quartet, with which the albums Thelonious in Action and Misterioso were created. From 1960 to 1962 he led his own very popular band with Eddie Lockjaw Davis , also a tenor saxophonist, which brought out several recordings.

In 1963, after stays in Stockholm , London and Holland, he moved to Paris , where he became band leader and soloist of the Kenny Clarke / Francy Boland Big Band . Since 1973 he lived in the Netherlands. In the late 1970s he returned to the United States, where he recorded the album Return of the Griffin and in 1979 performed with Dexter Gordon at a concert at Carnegie Hall .

From 1984 Griffin lived in the French village of Availles-Limouzine in the Vienne department . He has appeared on international tours and major jazz festivals, such as the 1999 Chicago Jazz Festival with Tommy Flanagan and Phil Woods . In Germany he has performed several times with Klaus Doldinger's group Passport , with whom he also made recordings.

Discographic notes


Web links