Jimmy Guiffre & The Art Of Creative Integrity by Tim Price

My man Tim Price wrote this nice piece for the Rico MySpace blog:

It's time for a lot of saxophonists to learn the language of jazz on the saxophone, and listen to the playing of Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderly, Eric Dolphy, Sonny Criss, Vince Wallace, Bert Wilson, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Lester Young, Chu Berry, Wardell Grey, Harold Ashby, Frank Lowe, Serge Chaloff and Ben Webster. Sprinkle in some Joe Farrell, Lee Konitz, Dick Johnson, Bill Perkins, Zoot and Al, Paul Gonzalves, Sal Nistico, Ronnie Cuber, Charlie Mariano and Steve Lacy. This is far more comprehensive than merely copying the current hip players on the scene. Go to the source! Check out the players the young cats got their inspiration from. These guys are lessons, as was Jimmy Guiffre who in my opinion was as important as anyone ever.

When I was 22 and lived in the Bronx, scuffling and looking for gigs after Berklee, I went to hear Jimmy at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. I had no money ( this was 1973 ) and barely had the subway fare to get there. BUT, I had to. It was his trio and the museum gave us pillows to sit on to dig the concert. It cost 3 dollars to get in. I watched the man, who was someone I considered a gift to the clarinet and saxes.I always wanted to hear him, since buying " Western Suite" as a 9th grade kid. My grandmother always asked me about the record cover, with the cactus on it. It was pretty cool and quite a cover to this day. So the concert went down and I approached Jimmy about how much I dug him. He spoke about using string ligatures that Kal Opperman hipped him to and how he thought about using less to get more in solos.What it was and I still remember it, was this; patterns that have groups of 5 and 7 notes. If you can get these kinds of patterns under your fingers and in all keys, it makes for some interesting possibilities. For example, a 5-note pattern might be: G, up to C, up to F, down to D, down to A. Repeat this a bunch of times, getting it up to a fast clip. Then move this up chromatically. This kind of works over dominant 7 chords, or minor 7th chords, given that there is no 3rd. You can alter this pattern to fit just about any chord type. For example, for a Gmaj7 5 (or flat5), use the following: G, up to B, up to F, down to D, down to C. Then he spoke of a 7-note pattern that works nicely over dom. 7th and sus chords : for a G7sus, play C, up to F, up to A, up to B, down to G, down to D, down to A. If it is a minor 7th chord you are playing over, simply flat the B. I thought this guy was from another world...here I was with one of my jazz heroes and he just started to lay information on me. He told me about making reeds with Opperman, which years later I checked out. I was making oboe reeds then from my Joe Viola lessons, and this seemed spot on. He also sat me down and told me about art should serve the individual rather than the individual serving the art. Plus, in jazz, human life is always more important than an established method, pick and choose from the best of all styles that works for you, no matter what category of music it's branched in.

Jimmy stressed there should be a naturally evolving process of research which ceases to become concrete in its finished product. All this and for free! He gave me his phone number, which I still remember had the exchange digits of letters and numbers. ( my mother worked for the phone company, and this stuff was always spoke of. ) I went back to my pad on Fordam Rd in the Bronx and wrote these ideas down, and tried them quietly on my flute at 2 am.

Jimmy was a real innovator, a person who lived for the music. You can imagine my sorrow at hearing he passed last week at 86. He was a great clarinetist, composer and arranger whose life journey through jazz led him from writing the Woody Herman "Four Brothers" through minimalist, drummerless trios to striking experimental orchestral works. He was 86 and lived in West Stockbridge, Mass. The cause was pneumonia, brought about by complications of Parkinson's disease, said his wife of 46 years, Juanita, who is his only survivor. He played bass flute to soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone and tenor and soprano but it was the clarinet that gave him a signature sound. His album, "Tangents in Jazz" did away with chordal instruments like piano or guitar two years before Sonny Rollins did so; his trios from 1956 to 1961 were without a drummer, prefiguring the classical-timbred music of vangardist jazz circles in the 1980s.

What made Giuffre important to big-band folks was "Four Brothers," a big hit for Woody Herman's Second Herd in 1947. It established the characteristic Herman frontline sound of three tenor saxophones and a baritone saxophone, played fast, in harmony and without vibrato.

In the 1940s, he became a freelance arranger and, in some cases, saxophonist, for a number of big bands. In the early 1950s, West Coast cool jazz began, and Mr. Giuffre took a big part. Playing great tenor saxophone, he was in small groups led by Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne and Howard Rumsey.The 50s versions of the Jimmy Giuffre Three with the guitarist Jim Hall and the bassist Ralph Pena, then Mr. Hall and the trombonist Bob Brookmeyer were things that influenced me on a life long basis. Jimmy was solidly established as the leader of amazing groups when he enlisted pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow in 1961. With this trio, he would take listeners into challenging terrain and offer the avant-garde a different direction . Often taking its style cues from modernism, this group mixed pointillism and atonality while moving seamlessly between composition and free improvisation. Free Fall, from 1962, was the group's ultimate recording and one of many of Giuffre's most radical statements, balancing duos and trios with unaccompanied clarinet improvisations that explored spontaneous structure, and brevity. Quietly revolutionary and brilliant in itself, this music was the culmination of the "Third Stream" synthesis and also paved the way for a younger generations. Today it still sounds fresh. The Giuffre-Hall-Brookmeyer trio is immortalized in the opening sequence of the film "Jazz on a Summer's Day," playing its best-known tune, "The Train and the River."From the 50s on, Giuffre taught music, initially at the Lenox School of Jazz, the late-summer educational conference in Lenox, Mass., which existed from 1957 to 1960. Talk about Jazz Educators!

It was at Lenox that Mr. Giuffre first encountered Ornette Coleman, a scholarship student at the school in 1959. By this time he recorded "Free Fall," which included some solo improvisations. Though the album was a inspirational vision to many musicians like myself and others. That was Jimmy's " Love Supreme" After "Free Fall" Giuffre made no albums for 10 years. He taught at the New School in and New York University in New York City, and in 1978 he joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, teaching there until the early 1990s. He also created another version of the Jimmy Giuffre Three, inspired by the electronic instruments of the band Weather Report, he made a series of quartet recordings for the Italian label Soul Note. Upon talking to him on the phone when I was leaving Harry James big band, he expressed a huge love of that band and Joe and Wayne, and told me about the elements he heard in it. Another conversation I never forgot. Later on of my favorite recording were with the French saxophonist André Jaume, who recorded Mr. Giuffre several times on his own label, CELP; as a duo they made a live album, "Momentum" . The 1961 Jimmy Giuffre trio, with Bley and Swallow, reunited for performances and recordings, including "The Life of a Trio" and "Conversations with a Goose".

I never heard anything like Jimmy and never forgot the sincerity in which he spoke to me as a young musician. His inspiration was something else. Genius is a rare commodity in any art form, thank god jazz had Jimmy Guiffre. He covered every conceivable area of creativity during the course of his extraordinary career.

This multi reedist/composer might very well be jazz's last bona fide genius. He was a controversial figure amongst musicians and critics. Whatever one calls it, however, there is no questioning the originality of his vision. Jimmy created music of enormous sophistication and passion that was unlike anything else in jazz. He was able to fuse jazz's visceral components with contemporary classical music's formal and harmonic methods in an utterly unselfconscious and convincing way. The best of his work is on a level with any music of the late 20th century, jazz ,classical or modern. Jimmy was a an amazing spontaneous improviser, a master of structure and sound, and one of the most versatile saxophone players I have ever heard. His control is unparalleled

He sure will be missed.

Thanks for your inspiration Jimmy!

Tim Price

Tim's Web Site


Rebbecca Paris videos on YouTube

I love Rebbecca Paris. There are so few really great Jazz singers alive today and she is definitely one of them. I met Rebbecca back in New England when I played a few times with the Kenny Hadley big band, which was kind of a Buddy Rich ghost band.

Rebbecca's darling daughter Marla just sent me a note about some links to some live performance videos that were recently posted on YouTube.

Georgia On My Mind w/ Kenny Hadley Big Band, Zeiterion Theatre
I Just Found Out About Love w/ Kenny Hadley Big Band, Zeiterion Theatre
I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before: with the Brad Hatfield Trio 2000

IAJE crashes and burns

Here's a letter from the president of IAJE about the implosion of the Jazz organization:

"Dear IAJE Family,

It is with a great sense of loss that I inform you that despite drastic efforts to cut expenses and raise emergency funds, the IAJE Board has voted to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Federal Bankruptcy Law. I want to thank profusely those who responded with their generous donations and offers of assistance following my last communication. While over 250 individuals contributed just over $12,000, this, along with the many other efforts and contributions of IAJE staff, Board members, and association partners, was simply not enough to address the accumulated debt of the organization or its urgent need for cash relief.

In the next few days, a Kansas bankruptcy court will appoint a trustee to oversee all ongoing aspects of the association. This includes the ability to examine IAJE's financial records and mount an independent inquiry into the causes of it's financial downfall as well as disposing of the remaining assets of the association with proceeds distributed to creditors in accordance with Kansas and Federal law. The board will no longer be involved in operation of the organization and will at some point resign. IAJE as it presently stands will no longer exist.

Approximately a week after filing, all potential creditors of the association will receive notice of the association's filing from the court. Members who desire additional information regarding the petition, including a complete listing of association assets and liabilities, may retrieve this, as it is a public document, through normal court procedures. Undoubtedly, however, you will have more immediate questions deserving of responses I hope to address in this report.

Since the first communication to the membership outlining this crisis, there has been considerable public speculation as to its causes. As noted in that communication, years of dependence upon the conference as a primary (but unreliable) revenue stream and the launch of a well-intentioned capital campaign (the Campaign for Jazz), which generated a meager response but required considerable expenditures in advance of contributions, drove the association into insolvency. Sadly, the attendance at the conference in Toronto (the lowest in 10 years) exacerbated an already critical situation, depriving the association of the cash-flow needed to continue daily operations as well as the time needed to seek alternative resources.

While ultimately not able to skirt the financial land mines placed in its path, I want to assure you the IAJE Board has acted responsibly, ethically, and with a sense of urgency ever since it was blindsided last fall with the discovery of the extent of the accumulated association debt. Since that time, the board slashed spending, set specific performance targets for the Executive Director, sought outside consultations, and enlisted the services of several past-presidents and strategic association partners in attempts to raise funds - sadly, with minimal success.

It goes without saying, the board you elected is comprised of very accomplished, intelligent, and dedicated educators and professionals who have given generously of their time in service to this association and care about it passionately. Likewise, our entire professional staff, led by Associate Executive Director, Vivian Orndorff, and Executive Producer, Steve Baker, has worked heroically in the face of declining resources to meet the needs of the association and its members. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank both the board and staff for their service. I have been privileged and honored to serve with them. While there may be those who question specific decisions or strategies in efforts to meet this crisis, the dedication and integrity of these individuals should never be in doubt.

As we move forward, one of the most pressing questions is how the operations of individual chapters and affiliated associations will be affected by this filing. Since our chapters are either separate corporate entitles or voluntary associations with their own boards, constitutions and bylaws; IAJE views them as completely independent entities. Ultimately, however, the trustee and the court will make this determination and it is anticipated that the trustee may request certain information from the chapters in this regard.

Sadly, the 2009 IAJE International Conference in Seattle has been cancelled. However, there has been some discussion of mounting a regional conference in its place. At the moment, Lou Fischer, U.S. Board Representative is fielding inquiries: ljazzmanf@yahoo.com.

For the time being, the IAJE website will remain up. However, the international offices of IAJE will close their doors at the end of the day on Friday, April 18th. Should there be additional questions you may submit them to info@iaje.org and every attempt will be made to respond to these as staffing allows.

Today, we, the members of IAJE and the global jazz community, face an extremely important task. For, as we all recognize, the opportunities, impact, and work of this association are too vital to simply disappear. Whether you were first drawn to IAJE for its conference, its magazine or research publications, its student scholarship programs such as Sisters in Jazz or the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz All-Stars, its Teacher Training Institutes, the resources provided through its website or Resource Team, or any one of a number of other offerings; it is clear the mission of IAJE still resonates and its advocacy is needed today more than ever. We must, therefore, look at this as an opportunity to refocus the mission, scope, programs, and vision of IAJE (or whatever succeeds it) to better meet the needs of our members and the jazz community not only today but looking toward the future.

I am, in no way, suggesting the membership turn a blind eye towards the need for an independent inquiry into causes and ultimately assigning responsibility for this situation. I ask you recognize the court appointed trustee, who will have access to all necessary documents and facts, is charged with that task. Our efforts and our passion, should be to collectively rally the community to recognize the importance IAJE has had and continues to have in the life and development of jazz and jazz education - seeking new strategic partnerships, new government structures, and a revitalized mission that embraces current needs.

Already there are efforts to do just that. I know that Mary Jo Papich, who would have begun serving her term as President of IAJE beginning this July, is dedicated to recreating such an association. As many know, Mary Jo has been a tireless advocate for IAJE, serving it long and well. You will, undoubtedly, be hearing from her in the near future. When she does contact you, I urge you to join me in offering her every support and assistance. Of course, others may also seek to fill this void by promoting alternative visions for empowering, serving, and gathering the jazz community. While I generally believe such diversity is quite healthy, I would strongly encourage all such efforts and leaders to attempt to collaborate and seek ways to unite us in spirit and strength.

Finally, I would encourage you to recognize and remember IAJE for all the tremendous good it has done in the past 40 years. Many individuals have contributed along the way, often at considerable personal sacrifice of their time and resources, to establish and advance the work of this association. Much has been achieved that can never be taken away! Therefore, the vision, effort, and shared passion that have fueled the growth of IAJE and its programs should not be forgotten or considered in vain. Rather, the spirit that is IAJE must be rekindled into a new vision for the future.

The IAJE Board - Chuck Owen, President"

IAJE website


Free Online Ear Trainer

JazzDoubleBass.com is a very nice new site based in the UK. I recently sold them a few articles that they have re-written specifically for bass players. If you play bass it's definitely a site worth checking out.

JazzDoubleBass just posted a great online ear training tool that was developed by Rick, a fellow blogger, who writes a Jazz trumpet blog called I was Doing Alright. Rick's Ear training tool is a beautiful piece of Java script that gives your ear a complete workout; covering intervals, chords, modulations, melodies, key centers, and more.


Casa Valdez now available as Podcast on iTunes

All the kinks aren't worked out yet, but now you can subscribe to podcasts of this blog with iTunes. So far it seems like only the first media file of each post comes up as a podcast, BUT IT'S STILL COOL!

Click the link below to go to the CASA Valdez page in the iTunes store, which will open your iTunes application. Click the subscribe button and then Casa Valdez media files with automatically be downloaded with iTunes as I post them.

Casa Valdez Podcast

Oasis CD release party MP3s

Here are three tracks from our CD release party last weekend. Enjoy!

Point of True

AccuJazz- Internet Streaming Jazz Radio

AccuJazz is the world's first multichannel jazz radio station, featuring nearly a dozen channels of great classic and mainstream jazz, from the earliest Dave Brubeck and John Coltrane to the latest from Joe Sample and Diana Krall.

There is one main channel and ten specialty channels, which are:

  • BeBop, Guitar Jazz, Latin-Fusion, New School, Old School, Piano Jazz, Saxophone Jazz, Vocal Jazz, West Coast, and Broadway Jazz.
You'll notice as your start listening that, unlike broadcast radio, you can customize AccuJazz channels to your exact tastes! Because they deliver a separate music stream to each listener, you can pause songs, skip songs if you don't like them, and even "deselect" artists you don't want to hear. I really think that this is the direction that radio is headed in the future, personalized content.

AccuJazz Internet Jazz Radio Station


Oasis Project Live at Jimmy Mak's

Pere Soto and I had our Oasis CD release party last weekend and I must say that I'm so relieved that it's over with. We did five radio show and a newspaper interview to promote the event, as well as the usual email blitz and web promotions. My wife and sister in-law got the food together, Dusty from the record label took care of the chairs and wine, and I picked up the cake from the cake lady. It turned out to be standing room only and we didn't even loose any money, which I was fully expecting. I think that Pere and I ended up making $12 each when all was said and done, not including the eight CDs that we sold.

Last night we played set at a club in town called Jimmy Mak's. Here are some MP3s from that gig that I recorded on my Zoom H4 digital recorder:

Latin Suffering
Just a Minor Blues