When it comes to playing exciting straight ahead jazz, Johnny Griffin was always impossible to top. Billed as “the world’s fastest saxophonist,” Griffin was a powerful force from the beginning of his career, playing every note with intensity. Born in Chicago, the tenor was a member early on of the Lionel Hampton Big Band (1945-47), played r&b with Joe Morris, jammed with Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and was an important part of the Chicago jazz scene before moving to New York in 1956. He became an early influence on the sound of Rahsaan Roland Kirk and was renowned in the Midwest even before he led his first albums.
By then there was much more to him than just speed for Griffin could show a great deal of warmth on ballads and plenty of sophistication even at the most rapid tempos. But one cannot imagine anyone defeating him in a saxophone battle, even Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis (with whom he co-led a notable group) or John Coltrane. He had a long and productive career that for decades found him playing the hard-charging bebop and warm ballads that he most loved.
While Introducing Johnny Griffin was actually the 28-year old’s album as a leader, it was his Blue Note debut and one of the milestones of his career. Joined by an unbeatable rhythm section with Wynton Kelly and Max Roach, Griffin excels on barn-busters and ballads alike. A master at ripping effortlessly through chord changes, Johnny Griffin displays youthful energy along with the maturity of a veteran, sounding very much like himself throughout this superb outing.
Even if the tenor had stopped playing right after recording Introducing Johnny Griffin, he would be known as one of the great tenor-saxophonists of the era.
This pressing is on SRX Vinyl. SRX stands for “Silent Running Xperience.” SRX is our own proprietary formula, conceived and developed by Rick Hashimoto of Record Technology and manufactured by TPC Plastics. Its noise floor is fathoms lower than any other vinyl we know of out there past or present. Records pressed with it look like normal black discs until you hold them up to the light and see that they are translucent and smoky, silvery gray in color. The near-perfect silence of SRX Vinyl virtually frees the music from groove noise and draws you further into the listening space, setting it in relief so distinct, full and spacious it’s nearly sculptural. You hear more of what’s on the original tapes, not only of the notes played on the instruments but the experience of the event itself. That's why we call it Silent Running Xperience.
Like all Music Matters Jazz releases, this is cut from the original analog tapes, mastered by Ron Rambach and Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio, and pressed at Record Technologies Inc (RTI). The gorgeous gatefold jacket is from Stoughton Printing in City of Industry, California and includes exclusively licensed photos from the original session inside.
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