It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Jimmy Giuffre. He died on April 24th, 2 days before his 87th birthday.
Jimmy was one of the great individualists of the clarinet, always inventing and thinking outside the norm. His later, free playing unfortunately took him out of the mainstream jazz world but he continued to create and pursue new ideas in jazz and on the clarinet, recording many superb albums. Mr. Giuffre suffered from Parkinson’s over the past few years and although he gave up playing, he continued to listen to music with the same sharp minded interest that he always had done.
I started appreciating Jimmy Giuffre’s music relatively late in my career, I was about 25. A friend gave me a copy of a cd called “Jimmy Giuffre 3” which featured his famous composition “The Train and the River”. Since then I’ve bought and listened to many, many wonderful recordings by this much overlooked artist. One of my favourite being ‘The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet’ originally released on the Atlantic label. The first track, So Low, is just Jimmy and his foot (tapping, obviously) playing a blues! Absolutely terrific! The record also features Jimmy Rowles on celeste (a superb version of Deep Purple). A lot of the music on the album is almost chamber ‘jazz’. Original compositions arranged for flutes, clarinet and drums or a clarinet trio of clarinet, alto and bass clarinet. The sounds and harmonies on this disc, while perhaps not for everyone, are wonderful. For more information on Jimmy Giuffre, please have a look at the articles written by Rex Butters at All About Jazz.
Jimmy Giuffre was an original. He will be missed by many.