Jimmy Giuffre 3

Flight, Bremen 1961

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Recorded two weeks after the set documented in Stuttgart on Emphasis, Jimmy Giuffre 3 with Giuffre on clarinet, pianist Paul Bley, and Steve Swallow on bass, is revelatory in that the comfort level between the musicians, and their willingness to walk as far out on a ledge before jumping off, makes for one of the more exciting recordings of the era. The tour set was actually lengthened by 20 minutes toward the end because of the literal magic taking place on-stage each evening. Here, like the rest of the tour, the "Suite for Germany" is the hinge on which front and back, rest. Three composed movements full of counterpoint and tonal inquiry are boiled down into a murky morass of harmonic invention for the improvised fourth movement. Bley is particularly brilliant here because he uses Giuffre's lines to create elegant and subtle eight- and nine-note chord patters before allowing the right hand to drift into them, but those patters stand in stark contrast to Giuffre's clarinet. Swallow's big moment comes on "That's True, That's True," where he plays rhythmic counterpoint against himself and offers the band a narrow window of opportunity to respond in kind -- they don't, and instead take his cue to move the tune off into the stratosphere. Throughout all of these vanguard musings there is a drummerless swing that is as pronounced as it is abstract. The read of Benny Goodman's signature tune, Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye" is imbued with a sense of a secret lyricism, as if the tune had an alternate melody that came from its middle eight, and Carla Bley's "Postures" is full of irony, it's true, but it's also full of some of the knottiest contrapuntal improvisation to come out of the entire era. Along with Emphasis, this date is not only of great historic performance -- given that this band was radically under-recorded -- but also of profound musical worth. Contrast its discoveries with those of Eric Dolphy's from the same period and it's easy to see why. A the end of 2003, Hat issued both recordings in a remastered, limited-edition package.

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