The Little Giant: A Tribute to Johnny Griffin

Of all the "tough tenor" saxophonists to come from Chicago, the late Johnny Griffin may have been the toughest. Best known for his bluesy sound and lightning speed, Griffin's sensitivity, imagination and soul brought beauty into the music too. Johnny Griffin's career in jazz spanned more than 60 years. He died at the age of 80 on July 25, 2008. The Little Giant paid tribute to the saxophonist with a engaging blend of commentary and music. The program included the voices of Griffin's longtime pianist Michael Weiss and biographer Mike Hennessey, as well as music from throughout Griffin's extensive career, and was hosted by Chicago Public Radio's Dan Bindert.

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Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin passed away on July 25 at his home in France at the age of 80. The Chicago native, who now makes his home in France, was one of jazz's leading saxophonists from the 1950s into the early 1990s. Early in his career, Griffin gained attention of rapid fire bebop lines. In later years, he received equal praise for his moving ballad work. He was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and made memorable recordings with pianist Thelonious Monk. Griffin's own sessions found him working in a variety of contexts, including a trio with two bass players and french horn, a session with strings and a big band date. Learn more about Griffin's role in jazz by listening to this two-part profile prepared by ideastream®'s Dan Polletta.

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