This two-fer on AIS/Pollwinners places Jimmy Giuffre's landmark Jimmy Giuffre, Vol. 3 album issued in 1956 on Atlantic, in a context with a lesser known, but in many ways equally significant date, Trav'lin' Light from 1958. The former album placed Giuffre’s saxophones and clarinet in front of guitarist Jim Hall, and bassist Ralp Peña. While a pianoless trio wasn’t a big deal in 1956, not having a drummer was. Giuffre was interested in creating a type of chamber jazz that swung quietly and allowed for listeners and musicians alike to appreciate textures and space. He felt percussion instruments too up way too much of it, and detracted from the players and listeners hearing the various timbral possibilities of individual instruments and group interplay. The latter album in this collection replaced Peña’s bass with Bob Brookmeyer's trombone, making for an even more radical departure. This one made the jazz establishment scratch its head a bit at the time, but the album was still generally well received. The contrast between brass as rhythm section with reeds, woodwinds, and Hall’s guitar, a warm, fluid, instrument that walked the bridge between, was another study in gently swinging contrast; it had its own spacious ambience very sophisticated charts and a sense of interplay play where focused improvisation could occur even though there wasn’t anything extra in the mix . This album prefaced the great Western Suite featuring the same lineup that appeared later in 1958. That said, but stands on its own as a maverick recording, justifiably paired with the Jimmy Giuffre, Vol. 3 LP. Given that both albums go in and out of print a lot on CD, this is a terrific chance to own both-especially for the attractive price tag.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek