Jimmy Giuffre was always a little ahead of the curve. Though he was lumped in with the (often unfairly maligned) Cool School, his stuff was always adventurous. JG omitted drums from his trios, and his low-volume groups and approach to improvisation anticipated aspects of the "chamber jazz" of ECM Records and the mid-to-late 60s avant-garde. The Easy Way (from 1960) finds Giuffre in a bit of a transitional phase: the harmonious song structures and swing of his Atlantic tenure are present, but he’s edging the music closer to the austere, minimalist style (presaging the AACM) of his Paul Bley/Steve Swallow trio (recorded later for Verve and then Columbia). While there’s still a robust, Southwestern blues feel to his tenor playing, his clarinet is dark-hued and focused with the purity of a laser beam, at times almost taking on the sound of a human sigh. Jim Hall engages in lively, melodic lines in unison and inspired dialog with JG, as well as keeping the "swing" going. Ray Brown’s lithe, sublime bass lines are at times almost subliminal - you can almost forget he’s there, but he is, exploring JG’s wide-open, low-volume compositions and making some fine, delicate statements. JG fans will, of course, have to get this limited edition facsimile reissue - but those who are into the chamber-improvs of Oregon, Wadada Leo Smith and John Zorn, as well as the "quieter" ECM albums, you need to hear this.
Artist / Group Name:Jimmy Giuffre 3
CD Title:The Easy Way
Reissue Original Release:1960
Musicians:J.G.: tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinet; Jim Hall: electric guitar; Ray Brown: bass.