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Johnny Griffin

Tenor Saxophone

Johnny Griffin has been one of the top bop tenors since the mid-'50s. Known among musicians as "the world's fastest saxophonist," he has been one of the most respected saxophonists in Jazz for well over 40 years. He has an individual sound and produces a gigantic, (occasionally bordering on the aggressive) tone , Griffin gained early experience playing with the bands of Lionel Hampton (1945-47) and Joe Morris and also jammed regularly with Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. After serving in the Army (1951-53), Griffin spent a few years in Chicago where he led his own quartet for a while and then moved to New York in 1956. He held his own against fellow tenors John Coltrane and Hank Mobley in a classic Blue Note album A Blowin'Session and was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers when they made their famous recording with Monk. Griffin impressed the enigmatic composer/pianist sufficiently to join Monk's quartet in 1958. This collaboration is well documented in a series of albums made for Riverside in 1958. He was a perfect match for Monk and he ripped through the complex chord changes with ease. During 1960-62 Griffin co-led a "tough tenor" group with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and their tenor battles became legendary in clubs around Harlem. Their tough tenor antics were recorded on a few albums for Prestige and Jazzland. Griffin emigrated to Europe in 1963 and became a fixture on the Paris jazz scene both as a bandleader and a major soloist with the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band. In 1973 Johnny Griffin moved to the Netherlands but has continued to tour to the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Recommended Recordings

Introducing Johnny Griffin Blue Note
A Blowin'Session Blue Note
The Congregation Blue Note
Johnny Griffin Sextet Riverside / OJC
Way Out Riverside / OJC
The Little Giant Riverside / OJC
The Big Soul Band Riverside / OJC
Studio Jazz Party Riverside / OJC
Take My Hand Lyra
Woe is Me Milestone
Do Nothing Till you Hear from Me OJC
Change of Pace Riverside
Lookin' at Monk Jazzland
Live at Minton's Prestige
Tough Tenor Favorites Jazzland
Grab This Riverside
The Jamfs are Coming Timeless
Kerry Dancers Quartet Phantom
The Man I Love Black Lion
Return of the Griffin Galaxy
Tough Tenor Back Again Storyville
The Cat Antilles
Chicago New York Paris Verve