Johnny Griffin could play as rapidly as anyone but there was more to the great tenor than just speed. His warm and emotional tone was distinctive (be Coming an influence on Rahsaan Roland Kirk), he could play chorus after chorus of inventive and fresh ideas, and he was unbeatable in a saxophone battle.
Griffin even battled Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (who had a much tougher tone) to a dead heat in nightly battles when they co-led a quintet in the 1960s. The Congregation is a superb outing full of heat, fire and intensity, with time out for thoughtful ballads. Teamed with pianist Sonny Clark in a quartet, Griffin is quite exuberant on the lengthy sanctified title cut which is reminiscent of the jubilant Horace Silver tune "The Preacher." He tears into "It' s You Or No One" and puts plenty of honest feeling into the other songs which are taken at a more moderate pace.
Johnny Griffin, like the very best jazz musicians, meant every note that he played and his solos were full of constant surprises, making his best recordings timeless. The Congregation is one of his finest albums.
Like all Music Matters Jazz releases, this audiophile vinyl reissue is mastered from the original analog tape and pressed on 180g virgin vinyl at RTI in Camarillo, CA. The highest quality gatefold cover features original session photography on the inside.See more Johnny Griffin records here