Mark Griffith


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Drummer Mark Griffith's initial effort for the Bluejay label is unique. All compositions on the play list are written by fellow drummers, including one by Griffith. These run the gamut from swingers, such as the oft-recorded "Stompin' at the Savoy" through hard bop pieces by Ralph Peterson to the avant-garde of Joe Chambers. Irrespective of style, the group put together by Griffith is at ease with all styles represented by the musical itinerary. On the Victor Lewis composition, "Big Girls," the soprano sax of Steve Wilson, working with David Gilmore's guitar, creates a sense of surrealism. Tony Williams has two of his tunes on the album, the more interesting of which is "Pee Wee," which he wrote as part of the late '60s modal music Miles Davis groups that produced such albums as E.S.P. and Miles Smiles. Once again, Steve Wilson's soprano is given a major part on this track. Jack DeJohnette's "Where or Wayne" is one of the cuts where Griffith exerts himself by providing the pulsating underpinnings for the ever-present soprano sax and guitar. Another strong moment for Griffith is on Ralph Peterson's "Song of Serenity," where his rifle shot drums against the soprano are much more urgent than calm. This track also provides the opportunity for bass player Kenny Davis to play by himself. But it's the modern jazz piece, "Patterns," where the group engages in what might be dubbed "controlled cacophony," with Griffith's drumming giving off a floating sensation, making this track the highlight of the session. It is not easy to keep a drummer-led album from becoming boring. With much help from his friends, Griffith manages to avoid that trap -- going away. Recommended.

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