This album leaves me as dissatisfied and unconvinced as I was after hearing Jimmy Giuffre on his recent tour of England. I am not convinced, for one thing, that he really is master of his instrument – the clarinet – and many of my misgivings in this respect are amplified by the astonishing routine, described by Benny Green on the sleeve, which Jimmy adopted in switching from tenor to clarinet, with its overriding necessity to extend his playing range from 2½ to 4 octaves.
If it really is as complicated as Mr. G. would have us believe, then he is undoubtedly playing up a gum tree, which is both sticky (hence the lack of swing) and makes a very poor music stand (being leafy, like most trees, you cannot see half the notes)!
Whatever the fundamental reason, Giuffre succeeds in producing one of the dullest trio records I have ever had to listen to. One can overdo the play on economy, but one must never appear to be groping for the notes.
The end product, for want of a better word – it is certainly not jazz as I understand it – is tatty, unexciting, and at times hesitant. Even the admirable guitar of Jimmy Hall and that ever solid bass beat by Ray Brown cannot retrieve an unfortunate and embarrassing situation.
The Easy Way; Mack The Knife; Come Rain Or Come Shine: Careful (21½ min.) – Ray’s Time; A Dream; Off Centre; Mintage; Time Enough (21 min.)
Jimmy Giuffre (clt and ten); Jim Hall (g); Ray Brown (bt). 6th and 7th August. 1959.
(HMV CLP 1344. 12inLP. 34s. 1½d.)