By Marc Chénard
At the risk of making an oversimplification, all creative minds fall into two categories: craftsmen, who forge some sort of personal identity out of existing styles; and visionaries, who create entirely new lexicons. The latter risk being marginalized as a result, or becoming pariahs, cast off and dismissed. They might earn deserved recognition if they live long enough, but it is often granted to them posthumously, supporting the observation of an American journalist: “All societies praise living conformists and dead trouble makers.”
In his lifetime, Jimmy Giuffre may not have been a trouble maker, or a rabble rouser, as say Albert Ayler was or Ornette Coleman had been, but he wasn’t exactly a living conformist. Giuffre in effect dared to be different from those who were different. In the early ‘60s, when jazz was coasting on tried and true hard bop recipes, and struggling with the nascent free jazz movement, Giuffre simply did not belong to either camp: Though he was from Texas and played tenor saxophone, he did not have the growl or the punch of a “Texas tenor.” Instead, the music of his late ‘50s trios with Jim Hall had a country flavor that was removed from hard bop and hip funky jazz grooves.
Read the rest at Point of Departure.