Nutmegging This Up

Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State

Jimmy Giuffre – The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet (1956)

Jimmy Giuffre, clarinet

Atlantic 1238 – deep groove mono pressing on the black label, first pressing?

Found at Father and Son Antiques, Raleigh, NC in the summer of 2009

I picked this up before I really knew much of anything about the differences between vinyl records before and after the start of the 70’s, and while this record has a considerable number of tics and pops for the first half of each side, it seems I made out pretty well only paying a few dollars for it.  It doesn’t seem to have much groove wear if any, which might have something to do with the strange format of the record.  I picked this up because I love Giuffre’s clarinet playing.  My two earlier encounters were 1959’s The Easy Way, a smooth ride on Verve with Jim Hall and Ray Brown, and the revolutionary music he made only a few years later with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow.  This record, even though it’s earlier The Easy Way, seems to straddle the two LPs by showcasing Giuffre’s compositional skills in an area that sounds more like modern classical chamber music.  There’s still some jazz here:  side A ends with “My Funny Valentine” backed only by a double reed trio and bass, and side B ends with a mini-big band of shorts with saxes, brass and rhythm.  

The shifting ensembles are a theme on Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet– it opens with solo clarinet (and foot taps) and almost expands by one player at a time – celeste, flute ensemble, clarinet trio (including the illusive alto clarinet) – a lot of ground is covered and it’s a really cool way to hear the extended families of woodwind instruments.  Giuffre clearly has the mind of a composer, thinking in colors rather than in lines or harmonies exclusively.  His clarinet playing is probably not up to par with my colleagues who are clarinetists, but he uses the instrument expressively and on Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet I think that’s what counts the most.


2 comments on “Jimmy Giuffre – The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet (1956)

  1. felixstrange
    November 2, 2012

    Hi! Great blog!

    I snagged a black label pressing of this LP as well from the dollar bin (sans original cover). Unfortunately, my copy exhibits pronounced groove wear by the time you reach the inside tracks.

    It is really is a great sounding recording (especially for 1956!) featuring some great underrated West Coast players (Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Buddy Colette). Hopefully one of these days I’ll run across another copy in better condition.

    BTW, another great Giuffre title on Atlantic is “Trav’lin’ Light” with Jim Hall on guitar and Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone in a piano-less, percussion-less trio. It’s engineered by the amazing Tom Dowd (in stereo) and is one of the best sounding records I’ve ever heard.

    • pgiampi1
      November 2, 2012

      I will DEFINITELY look at for that one. I have yet to own anything that Bob Brookmeyer is on, and something about Hall’s guitar Giuffre’s clarinet make a nice pair of timbres.

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