December 25, 2016

Johnny Griffin - A Blowin Session (1957)

This album, also known as Johnny Griffin Vol. 2, is just a horn jam session--nothing more, nothing less. The bandmates don't put as much thought into central melodies and song structures as they would on more proper albums. This is essentially a jazz freestyle session with four horns: saxophonists Johnny Griffin, John Coltrane, and Hank Mobley with Lee Morgan on trumpet to break things up a bit. Griffin, Trane, and Morgan play compelling solos, but Mobley falls flat on his ass in the presence of the elite bop players. The one and only Art Blakey brings the artillery with his drumming and is flanked by classic Blue Note rhythm players Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers. Kelly gets sidelined in the recording mix, probably because of the unusual lineup with three tenor saxophones. His solos are heard fine, but when the horns play he isn't as present to soften things up and I think that's why I can never seem to settle my mind on this session like I can with other Blue Notes from 1957. A Blowin Session is essential for any Coltrane fan because it is one of his few features on Blue Note, but I honestly prefer the cooking session the label organized for Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore as it is much more balanced overall.


A Blowin Session