Johnny Griffin RIP

Johnny Griffin, a tenor saxophonist whose technical command set standards for his instrument and who refused to compromise his art, died today at his home in the village of Mauprevoir in France. From Ben Ratliff's obituary of Griffin in today's New York Times: His height -- around five feet five -- earned him the nickname "The Little Giant"; his speed in bebop improvising marked him as "The Fastest Gun in the West"; a group he led with Eddie Lockjaw Davis was informally called the "tough … [Read more...]

Retake: Tom Talbert

Lately, I've been missing Tom Talbert. I went into the archive to see what Rifftides had to say about him following his death a little more than three years ago. Here is one paragraph of the remembrance: Tom died on Saturday, a month short of his eighty-first birthday. An elegant, soft-spoken man, he was an early and drastically overlooked composer, arranger and band leader on the west coast before West Coast Jazz was a category. His mid-to-late-1940s Los Angeles bands included Lucky … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Composing

You compose because you want to somehow summarize in some permanent form your most basic feelings about being alive, to set down... some sort of permanent statement about the way it feels to live now, today--Aaron Copland Well, American composers are the best composers. At this time in the world, we are where the energy is. We are the most diverse, the most iconoclastic, the most maverick, and the most skillful--David Del Tredici I don't hate work, composing is not work for me, it's my … [Read more...]