I interrupt our celebration of African music with sad news. Tenor-sax virtuoso Johnny Griffin – the “Little Giant,” whose career reached back to the dawn of bebop – died Friday at his home in France.
At 80 years old, Mr. Griffin was still performing. He played a concert on the French Riviera last Monday... and was scheduled for shows this weekend. Griffin’s new CD, “Smokin’ Sax,” was released last week in Europe.
In Griffin’s honor, I’m streaming one of his mid-career highlights on my Vox blog. It’s an exuberant reading of “Autumn Leaves” from his 1978 album “Return of the Griffin” (recorded upon his return to America after 15 years in Europe).
Click here to hear it.
You can read the New York Times obituary here. The Chicago Tribune (in Griffin’s home town) eulogizes him here. The London Telegraph’s obit is here.
Last November, I posted jazz writer Andy Gilbert’s 1999 interview with Johnny Griffin. If you missed it then, you can read it now.
For we have indeed lost a giant.