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Jimmy Giuffre Plays 'The Easy Way' -- Adrian Mitchell

(Poem #337) Jimmy Giuffre Plays 'The Easy Way'
A man plodding through blue-grass fields.
He's here to decide whether the grass needs mowing.
He sits on a mound and taps his feet on the deep earth.
He decides the grass doesn't need mowing for a while.
-- Adrian Mitchell


[Minstrels Links]

Adrian Mitchell is probably my favourite contemporary poet; I've covered
quite a bit of his work here on the Minstrels. Check out

'The Oxford Hysteria of English Poetry', one of the funniest poems I've
ever read, at poem #211

'To Whom It May Concern', a protest poem, at poem #28 (there's a brief
bio af Mitchell attached) and

'Nostalgia - Now Threepence Off', a must-read for anyone who likes
children's fiction, at poem #95

The connection between poetry and music is a well explored theme on the
Minstrels; the usual Dylans and Cohens apart, this one's a personal
favourite: poem #119

(You can, of course, browse for Dylan, Cohen, Simon, and a host of other
poets at the Minstrels website,

[On Giuffre]

Here's the standard AMG bio:

Jimmy Giuffre has had many accomplishments in a long career that has
never been predictable. Giuffre graduated from North Texas State
Teachers College (1942), played in an Army band during his period in the
service and then had stints with the orchestras of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy
Dorsey and Buddy Rich. His composition "Four Brothers" became a hit for
Woody Herman, an orchestra that Giuffre eventually joined in 1949.

Settling on the West Coast, the cool-toned tenor started also playing
clarinet and occasional baritone. He was with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse
All-Stars (1951-52) and Shorty Rogers' Giants (1952-56), recording with
many top West Coast jazz players. In 1956 he went out on his own,
forming the Jimmy Giuffre 3 with guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Ralph
Pena (later Jim Atlas). Giuffre had a minor hit with his recording of
"The Train and the River," a song that he played during his notable
appearance on the 1957 television special The Sound of Jazz. In 1958
Giuffre had a most unusual trio with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and
guitarist Hall (no piano, bass or drums!), appearing in the movie Jazz
on a Summer's Day. After a couple years of reverting back to the
reeds-guitar-bass format, in 1961 the new Jimmy Giuffre 3 featured
pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow and was involved in
exploring the more introspective side of free jazz. From 1963 on Giuffre
maintained a lower profile, working as an educator although Don Friedman
and Barre Phillips were in his unrecorded 1964-65 group. He popped up on
records now and then in the 1970s with diverse trios (including a
session with Bley and Bill Connors) and his 1980s unit often utilized
the synthesizer of Pete Levin. Giuffre, who started late in life playing
flute and soprano and seems to have made a career out of playing
surprising music, reunited with Bley and Swallow in 1992. He has
recorded as a leader through the years for Capitol, Atlantic, Columbia,
Verve, Hat Art, Choice, Improvising Artists, Soul Note and Owl.

        -- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Here's another description which goes a bit of the way towards putting
the title in context:

Jimmy Giuffre has been labeled alternately a pioneer of cool, of "folk
jazz," and of hopelessly abstract impressionism. While it is possible to
find elements in this music that could satisfy any of these criteria,
there is something unique about him that successfully avoids easy
pigeon-holing. Always preferring the simple to the elaborate, he
delivers up melodies that are bare naked, open-ended, and airy.
Consistent with his heady constructions of the early 60s with Swallow
and Bley, his paradoxical style continues to combine down-to-earth
solidity with gauzed transparency.

        -- Scott Hacker, the Birdhouse


Sorry about the laconic comment. But honestly, what is there to say
about a poem like today's? Besides, today's the start of a long weekend
here in Tokyo, and I'm feeling every bit as laidback as Mitchell's

16 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Biju James Thuruthimattam said...

This little poem makes the inflictment of the rest bearable...


Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Fellow.

Office: Residence:
Dept. of Aerospace Engg., #2000
FXB Building, Ann Arbor,
University of Michigan, MI
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

They say,
hard work never killed anyone.

I don't intend to find out.

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