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Johnny Griffin: Griff’n’Bags

The title of this album is a tad misleading as Griffin appears, in the company of Bailey, Persson, and Shihab, only on the last five of the 16 tracks. Preceding these, we hear three by the Boland-Woode-Clarke trio, three more with trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, Persson, and Shihab added, and five featuring Milt Jackson with Shihab’s flute and the rhythm section. All date from 1967-69 and are excellent examples of both Boland’s writing and the solo expertise of the stars, all but Jackson regular members of the big band. In the accompanying booklet, annotator Mike Hennessey, a respected British pianist/composer in his own right and longime friend of the participants, offers a coyly faux elucidation of the acronym JAFMS, as encountered in the title of Griffin’s “The JAMFS Are Coming.” One can almost envisage Eric Idle’s immortal “wink, wink…nudge, nudge” as he soberly substitutes “the Jolly American Musical Fellows” for Griff’s decidingly more earthy expletive.

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