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JJ 06/60: Jimmy Giuffre – The Easy Way

A review by Gerald Lascelles, first published in Jazz Journal June 1960

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)!

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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.
Gerald Lascelles

Discography
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.)

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