Johnny Griffin: A Monk's Dream


A Monk's Dream


Johnny Griffin (tenor sax)


Return of the Griffin (Original Jazz Classics 1882)

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Johnny Griffin (tenor sax),

Ronnie Mathews (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), Keith Copeland (drums)


Composed by Johnny Griffin


Recorded: Berkeley, CA, October 17, 1978


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Johnny Griffin celebrated his 80th birthday on April 24, 2008. Thirty years prior, in 1978, he returned to the U.S. from Europe for his first American tour in 15 years, and producer Orrin Keepnews brought him into the studio for the session that included Griffin's tribute to Thelonious, "A Monk's Dream." Another 20 years back, in the summer of 1958, Keepnews had recorded Monk live at the Five Spot Café in New York, with Griffin, as the pianist's sideman, producing some of the best playing of his career.

The 1978 Griffin has a somewhat fuller sound, his phrasing less mercurial and daring, and the single-note lines not nearly as breathtakingly extended as in 1958. Griffin's tune itself has the perfect structure and flavor of some long-lost Monk composition recently unearthed. After Mathews's sparkling intro, Griffin caresses the memorable melody and then patiently builds his melodic solo, eventually turning to a more staccato attack as he unleashes some fleet, swirling runs. The overall impression here is of a more mature player, one not as impulsive or compelled to cram as much content as possible into every solo. Mention must be made of the fine solos by Mathews and Drummond, as well as Copeland's estimable support throughout.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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