In Memoriam: Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008)
Jimmy was quite an addition to my life. He was kind of a father figure to me, especially since my old man split when I was seven. I learned so much from Jimmy musically. For instance, if he had written something and he wanted the melody phrased a certain way, he would say, "Try to make those notes string together" so it sounded more like a wind instrument though played by guitar. Especially because I would be playing lines along with Jimmyfirst with [bassist] Ralph Pena and we went through a few other bassists and eventually the trio was with [Bob] Brookmeyer and me. So I was a soloist and a rhythm player. He didn't change how I played, but tried to make my playing fit in. And he was open to everything. He was a help personally and musically. I admired him as a person, his integrity. I remember when I met Jim; I had first arrived in LA coming from Cleveland. They had these jam sessions in Hollywood and I saw him outside. I told him how much I enjoyed his playing and he said, "Same to ya" in his Texas accent. And one of the last conversations we had over the phone when he was deep into the Parkinson's, his wife Juanita was holding the phone up to his ear and I was telling him how important he was to me and he said, "Same to ya." That's the kind of the closure we had.
JIM HALL, Guitarist
Jimmy was a strong man. I talked to his lovely wife quite a few years ago (maybe 10!) and asked to speak to Jimmyshe said "Be prepared!" We exchanged some words (from me) and not clear words from Jim, until in slow but clear articulation he said, "I wish we could play together!" He was a big musiciandid everything, very personally and fresh. He wrote music for five saxophones (Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre, 1959) and music for a brass section and me (You and Lee, 1959) and we did an album with Paul Bley (IAI Festival, 1978). Jim was lucky all these last years; Juanita his wife took loving care of him. I was lucky to have done some music with him.
LEE KONITZ, Saxophonist
My friend, my brother, Jimmy Giuffre, was a quiet storm, an always-evolving artist who pushed his own musical boundaries without regard to the consequences. No one sounds like Jimmy. No one ever will. A profound musician is gone from us.
GEORGE RUSSELL, Composer
When I was a little kid I used to go into a club on Hollywood Blvd. & Vine and Shorty Rogers was playing there and Jimmy Giuffre was in the band, and they'd let me sit in with them. Jimmy had an apartment on Melrose with Gene Roland and I used to go there and hang out. Then Jimmy Giuffre got a chance to do his first record on his own, as a leader, with Capitol Records and he gave me the job. It was my first recording session...at the old Capitol Records on Melrose next to Nicodell's. Then we went on to do Tangents In Jazz... it was just drums and bass, sax and trumpet; he was always very modern. I played with him off and on until he moved to New York. We worked a lot together. We worked at The Lighthouse and The Crescendo in Hollywood. So he gave me my first chance in jazz. He was always a great player and a great writer.
JACK SHELDON, Trumpeter
Many called Jimmy Giuffre's music "understated" but I consider it one of the bolder statements in jazz: that you could swing without drums, find clarity without form, speak volumes without volume. Above all this was sound: his horns, his tunes, his groups. If jazz and improvised music is in a healthy state these days (and I'm one that thinks it is), Jimmy Giuffre is much to be thanked.
JAMES FALZONE, Clarinetist