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AOW, July 11-17: Johnny Griffin, J.G. (Argo)


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#1 mikeweil

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 10:12 AM

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This has always been my favourite Johnny Griffin album, and I consider it one of the most amazing LP debut albums as a leader ever.
It was his first 12" LP as a leader, his first recording as a leader besides four sides for Okeh, probably in 1954, as "Little Johnny Griffin". It was recorded for the small Chicago-based Parrott label, and scheduled for release, but the label was sold to the Chess brothers before it was issued. The only Parrott LP ever issued was the Ahmad Jamal Trio's famous "Chamber Music of the New Jazz", so this album is in some fast company. It was finally issued as Argo LP 624 and is pretty rare. A friend of mine had some tracks on a German Chess tenor sax anthology, and I taped them and hunted for this LP; I finally scored a copy at an auction.

It was recorded as early as 1953 (!!!) - click here for the story about the label and determination of the recording date (you will have to scroll pretty far down the page) - I will get the new Verve LPR reissue sometime next week and wonder if they have corrected the recording date. The Argo LP was issued in 1958.

Johnny Griffin - tenor sax
Junior Mance - piano
Wilbur Ware - bass
Buddy Smith - drums
Chicago, probably August, 1953

I Cried for You
Satin Wrap
Yesterdays
Riff-Raff
Bee-Ees
The Boy Next Door
These Foolish Things
Lollypop

I prefer this a lot to his first Blue Note LP from April 17, 1956 Introducing Johnny Griffin, it is mellower, groovier, his conception is totally developped, virtuosic without being beeing to flashy or showing off, bluesy, and the sound is much better as the RVG recording, IMHO.

Very curious to read what you think about this album. :tup

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Edited by mikeweil, 11 July 2004 - 10:51 AM.


#2 jlhoots

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 10:42 AM

It makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity.
About 25-27 minutes as I recall.

#3 mikeweil

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 10:53 AM

It makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity.
About 25-27 minutes as I recall.

It was still the 10" LP era in 1953 ...

#4 Dan Gould

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 11:05 AM

What jlhoots said. Great album, too short.

Which was a more auspicious debut, Hank's ten inch BN or Griff's Argo? That is a very tough call.

#5 762rob

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 10:20 PM

Great album- got it a couple of years ago when Universal issued it in Japan - the Japanese reproduced the "Kangaroo Pak" packaging - it opens in the middle like a pair of double doors.

Great fun to read what you all have to say about it - there was a lot written in the package, but all in Japanese.

#6 mikeweil

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 02:38 AM

Great album- got it a couple of years ago when Universal issued it in Japan - the Japanese reproduced the "Kangaroo Pak" packaging - it opens in the middle like a pair of double doors.

That is why my LP must be a later reissue - it is not a Kangaroo Pak. AFAIK the opening cover was the first LP issue. This was discussed somewhere in the obscure album covers thread.

#7 JSngry

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 10:50 AM

Every bit as great as it is short!

Kinda like Griff himself in that way...

#8 jazzbo

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 10:56 AM

:g

Yes, a real hoot from starting toot to the end.

#9 JSngry

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 11:05 AM

Johnny Griffin is nuts, you know. HAS to be to play that way.

I wish more people were nuts like that.

#10 JohnS

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 09:07 AM

I've never even heard of this disc let alone seen a copy. Definitely my loss. For some reason Argo albums never got much of a distribution in the UK.

#11 BruceH

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:47 PM

I've never seen it either. :(

#12 couw

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:55 PM

I've never seen it either. :(

it has recently (last week) been reissued in the Verve LPR series.

#13 mikeweil

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 03:03 PM

Seize the opportunity and buy it, you won't be disappointed. It's a reall goodun! :tup Junior Mance plays really well on it, too!

BTW, the copies I saw in a German retailer on Monday were digipaks like the Verve by Request series, not mini-LPs - can't see why they still call it LPR series :wacko: .

#14 BruceH

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 08:44 PM

I've never seen it either. :(

it has recently (last week) been reissued in the Verve LPR series.

Hoo-boy! I saw it just today when I went to buy the Serenade To A Soul Sister and Black Fire RVG's. Grabbed it! Very nice album; and it may be a digipak, but at least they didn't put that "Don't Copy" crap on the back cover.

#15 BruceH

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 07:37 PM

I've never seen it either. :(

it has recently (last week) been reissued in the Verve LPR series.

Hoo-boy! I saw it just today when I went to buy the Serenade To A Soul Sister and Black Fire RVG's. Grabbed it! Very nice album; and it may be a digipak, but at least they didn't put that "Don't Copy" crap on the back cover.

I was WRONG----they DID put an anti-piracy badge on the back. It was hidden behind the gold, stick-on obi-strip thing. Still a good album, though.

#16 mikeweil

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 08:17 AM

Nice to hear you like it! Do you have his first Blue Note, and if so, how do you think they compare?

#17 JohnS

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 09:10 AM

I've never seen it either. :(

it has recently (last week) been reissued in the Verve LPR series.

Doesn't appear to have surfaced in the UK yet.

#18 BruceH

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 08:12 PM

Nice to hear you like it! Do you have his first Blue Note, and if so, how do you think they compare?

Yeah, I have Introducing Johnny Griffin. Good as it is, I'd have to say that the Argo/Parrot album seems warmer and more relaxed, somehow, the playing more straight ahead and soulful. The BN debut seems flashier, though that's NOT to say that the earlier album lacks at all for technical grace, at least to these ears. Of course, I'm a non-musician, so we're talking 100% subjective here. Also, the earlier album has surprisingly good sound---you really here that bass, and the tenor sounds like you could touch it. I'm so glad they re-issued it! (By the way, Introducing J. G. shares two song selections with the Argo: "The Boy Next Door," and "These Foolish Things." Griffin must have like them.)

#19 mikeweil

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 08:12 AM

(By the way, Introducing J. G. shares two song selections with the Argo: "The Boy Next Door," and "These Foolish Things." Griffin must have like them.)

It is these two tracks that make comparison so interesting!
Maybe the first pressing of the Argo was sold out by the time he recorded the Blue Note.

#20 BruceH

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 10:03 AM

I just listened to "Introducing--" again after a long time, and I've got to say, it's kind of hard to choose between the two.

#21 paul secor

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Posted 17 August 2004 - 07:58 PM

I have this on a Japanese LP, and every time I play it I expect to be disappointed by the length of the tunes, but I never am. Everyone plays well, and everyone seems to have enough time to say what they have to say.
A couple of thoughts:
Wilbur Ware's "Riff Raff" is fun to listen to. I'm not a musician, so perhaps for the players it was fun mixed with difficulty.
When I was listening to "The Boy Next Door", I felt that for the first time I was hearing the connection between Johnny Griffin and Von Freeman. I don't know who was influenced by whom, or even if that was the case. Perhaps it was just something in the Chicago milieu. I imagine that others have commented on this connection, but it was the first time I heard it for myself.
An unusual AOW choice - but a very good one.

#22 mikeweil

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 06:42 AM

It was recorded as early as 1953 (!!!) - click here for the story about the label and determination of the recording date (you will have to scroll pretty far down the page) - I will get the new Verve LPR reissue sometime next week and wonder if they have corrected the recording date.

Of course they didn't - careful research of dedicated jazz lovers is the last thing those reissue producers seem to care for.
The liner says "recorded in 1956" - as I said, it was August 1953! (If in doubt, follow the link in the quote.)

Edited by mikeweil, 24 August 2004 - 06:43 AM.


#23 JohnS

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Posted 03 September 2004 - 09:46 AM

Hooray, just got this today. Griff is relaxed and soulful here. Good mix of of standards and originals. Nice album, well worth the wait. Pity it's so short.



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