Jimmy Giuffre Day

April 26, 1921 – April 24, 2008

The Train and the River

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Multi-reed player James Peter “Jimmy” Giuffre was born April 26, 1921 in Dallas, Texas.

Giuffre, whose father was an immigrant from Sicily, first made his mark as an arranger for Woody Herman.

He was a major figure in West Coast Jazz and performed with Shelly Manne, Bob Brookmeyer, Lee Konitz, Herb Ellis, Jim Hall, Paul Bley, and Steve Swallow.

In the early 1950s he would become a central figure in West Coast and cool jazz as a member of Howard Rumsey’s “Lighthouse All Stars” performing at a very popular jazz club called The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California.

After leaving the “All Stars” in September 1953 Jimmy became a member of Shorty Rogers’ “Giants” before embarking on his solo career.

Giuffre assembled a trio with which he would perform through the ’50s featuring guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Ralph Pena, who was later replaced by Jim Atlas.

He formed a new trio with Paul Bley on piano and Steve Swallow double bass in 1961 and began to focus on clarinet more so than tenor sax, exploring the possibilities of free jazz in its soft melodic form.

In the ’70s Jimmy made the inevitable leap to music educator when he was hired by New York University to head its jazz ensemble.

He would teach at the New England Conservatory of Music during the 1990s.

Jimmy Giuffre is remembered for his interest and development in forms of free improvisation and authored many unusually pieces of music throughout his career.

Giuffre plays his original composition “The Train and the River” with Jim Atlas and Jim Hall for the 1957 movie “The Sound of Jazz.”


Jimmy Giuffre, sax
Jim Atlas, bass
Jim Hall, guitar


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