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Johnny Griffin, Saxophone Giant, is Dead at 80

Johnny Griffin, often called “the world’s fastest saxophonist,” died today, July 25, at his home in the village of Mauprevoir, southwest France, at the age of 80. The cause was not announced, however, the bop tenor legend had been scheduled to perform tonight.

Griffin, who lived in France for the last 18 years of his life, was recognized initially for his contributions to the music of such greats as Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Lionel Hampton, but is mainly lauded for his many contributions as a leader. Nicknamed “The Little Giant,” Griffin’s speedy blowing dazzled listeners, but that speed never obscured the beauty and strength of his melodies.

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