Passing of another giant

Jazz great Jimmy Giuffre passed away on Thursday (read New York Times article). He would have been 87 today. 

Prolific on many instruments, he will mostly be remembered for his clarinet playing and his role as one of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers" on tenor. Based on Giuffre composition of the same name which featured a new configuration within the big band. The piece was set with the an alto (played by Sam Marowitz), three tenors (Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Herb Steward) and a baritone sax (Serge Chaloff). The emphasis of this particular piece, especially with these particular players, featured the three tenors, influenced by the Lester Young school of playing. The alternation between the individual soloists and the relaxed, free flowing, non vibrato playing gave this piece a special coloration which enthused Herman and became a trademark of his ensemble.

Here's a great clip which shows Giuffre's proficiency on multiple instruments as he moves from baritone sax to clarinet to tenor sax in a trio setting of "The Train and the River". This also highlights another of Giuffre's contribution to jazz history, the drumless trio. As Ben Ratliff explains: 

"His album “Tangents in Jazz” (1955) did away with chordal instruments like piano or guitar two years before Sonny Rollins famously did so; his trios from 1956 to 1961 were without a drummer, prefiguring the quieter, classical-timbred music of vanguardist jazz circles in the 1980s."  [New York Times, April 26, 2008]