Jimmy Giuffre / April 26, 1921 - April 24, 2008

The reedsman (especially clarinet) Jimmy Giuffre was an innovator in experimental jazz, namely "third stream" (or "chamber jazz") and free improv. He moved from his native Texas to the West Coast around '50, becoming a major part of the scene and the development of "cool jazz". He played tenor & baritone with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars until '53 and played for a minute in the band of ex-Lighthouser Shorty Rogers before going out on his own with his avant-garde music.

His drummerless trios consisted of reeds/bass/guitar, reeds/trombone/guitar and clarinet/piano/bass formats, in the process exploring free improvisation much earlier than most of the free jazz screamers. By the '70s he started working with drummers and electronics before taking cushy teaching gigs in the Northeast.

He's worked with Woody Herman (Giuffre composed "Four Brothers"), Lee Lonitz, Steve Swallow, Red Norvo, Bob Brookmeyer, Jim Hall, Shelly Manne, Paul Bley, André Jaume, Chet Baker, Modern Jazz Quartet, Sonny Stitt, Buddy Rich and my old friend Joe McPhee. Giuffre spent his last years in Western Massachusetts.

Tagged: avant-garde, Celebrate Icons, jazz, Jimmy Giuffre, out-jazz, reeds, WMass

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