Dec 3, 2014
2014 has been quite a year for the music and memory of the late Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008). Known primarily by jazz aficionados as one of the early progenitors of Avant chamber jazz, Giuffre wrote a hit or two and performed with virtually all of the jazz greats during his long career, including Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. The discovery of two previously unreleased concerts from 1965 by Zev Feldman’s Elemental Music label resulted in one of the year’s best surprises, the Jimmy Giuffre 3 and 4’s New York Concerts. Beyond the critical raves that set produced, trumpeter Dave Douglas paid tribute to him by recording with a quartet that included former Giuffre bassist Steve Swallow, along with Chet and Jim Doxas, called Riverside. Suddenly Jimmy Giuffre wasn’t such a distant memory.
New England Conservatory faculty member and renowned bassist/composer/bandleader Bob Nieske continues the love fest by leading the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra in a program featuring his own music alongside music composed by longtime NEC faculty member Giuffre on Thursday, December 4 at NEC's Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA. Giuffre taught and coached jazz ensembles at NEC from 1978 through 1994.
Featured Giuffre compositions will include his best-known composition, "Four Brothers," made famous by Woody Herman's recording with Stan Getz, as well as "Palo Alto," "Dragonfly" and three arranged by Nieske: "Cry Want," River Chant," and "The Sad Truth." Nieske will direct the ensemble in several of his own pieces, including "For Jimmy·" and "Broken Lotus, a Concerto Grosso."
I spoke with Bob about Giuffre, who was one of his mentors during Nieske’s time at NEC, and why his music is making a comeback in 2014. Our conversation is podcast 459, which includes Giuffre recordings like “Cry, Want” (with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow), “Dragonfly” and his arrangement of “Mack the Knife (with Ray Brown and Jim Hall). Nieske’s “Flatline” is also featured.