Jimmy Giuffre 3: Music For People, Birds, Butterflies & Mosquitoes

The ever-melodic Giuffre presents a signature mixture of form and experiment in this 1972 set with Kiyoshi Tokunaga and Randy Kaye


Despite making his name as part of the West Coast school, the Woody Herman band and the Four Brothers, Jimmy Giuffre was best known for the Train And The River, a hit from the 1959 film Jazz On A Summer’s Day. He had started working in a pared-down trio format as early as 1954 with Shelly Manne and subsequently explored areas of free improvisation with various configurations of his own trio.

Always melodic, Giuffre is never far from formal structures but willing to experiment. On this album he veers towards abstraction yet keeps a regular pulse, a role taken by bassist Kiyoshi Tokunaga with simple recurring note lines before given room to solo.

Giuffre’s flute gets the lion’s share, featuring on six of the 12 tracks. Mosquito Dance is an attractive rhythmic opener; Flute Song is a duet with Tokunaga; fluttering notes portray The Butterfly. What is noticeable on all the flute numbers is the use of space and the precision of his playing, rounded and never piercing or jarring, rarely atonal. In contrast, his tenor work is strong, full-blown and assertive, on Night Dance, Eternal Chant, The Chanting and Dervish.

Like Tokunaga, drummer (and regular associate of Giuffre in later years) Randy Kaye is equally supportive, filling in, extending lines and embellishing accordingly, helping the music flow, whether using tom-toms and gong, brushes and cymbal, or other percussive adornment.

Giuffre turns to clarinet on The Waiting, with a close unison passage with bass, and on Feast Dance, which is introduced in dramatic fashion by Kaye’s drums and gongs and firmly reinforced by Tokunaga’s vigorously bowed bass and a Middle Eastern touch from Giuffre.

Mosquito Dance; Night Dance; Flute Song; Eternal Chant; The Bird; The Waiting; The Butterfly; The Chanting; Moonlight; Dervish; Phoenix; Feast Dance (44.55)
Giuffre (f, cl, ts); Kiyoshi Tokunaga (b); Randy Kaye (d, pc). NY, December 1972.
Candid CAN33202