Recent listening, current

Thursday, January 23, 2014

170-173. Four albums by Gigi Gryce Quintet and Gigi Gryce Orch-Tette, 1960-1961

This CD release by Fresh Sound collects the last four LPs by Gigi Gryce: Saying Somethin'; The Hap'nin's; The Rat Race Blues; and Reminiscin'. I think they were originally released on Jazzland, but I have to double-check. Gryce was respected and admired as an altoist and composer, and he is heard on a good many dates by other leaders. But he left performing and recording for the field of education... PS 53 in the Bronx, to be precise. In that regard, he reminds me of people like Nathan Davis, Donald Byrd, or Dave Van Kriedt who quit the scene to become educators. Sadly, Gryce's memory gets lost, because in an age of new ideas, he just kept on playing hard bop and never really made a big splash. What he didn't accomplish by comparison to his peers is irrelevant. As this set shows, Gryce made some excellent music. His effortless, sometimes abrasive lines and unique approach to the blues are rock solid. I know everyone's blues is unique but it's nice to hear a person say it his way. Likewise, Gryce's arrangements of "Summertime," "A Train," "Lover Man," and "Caravan" put a vivid new spark into the old warhorses. I'm thankful we have the recordings he left and if you haven't heard of him, then you now have a new musician to look into.

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