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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby



Frank Griffith


Featuring Tom Harrell

HEP records CD 2077



  1. Brookland
  2. Afterthoughts
  3. Folks Who Live On the Hill
  4. The Suspect
  5. Lonely Evening
  6. I’ll Be around
  7. JCC
  8. Liberty Bell
  9. Ricochet

Frank Griffith – Tenor
Tom Harrell – Trumpet/Flugel
Joel Weiskopf – Piano
John Hart - Guitar
James Genus – Bass
Billy Drummond – Drums
John Hart is not on track 5 and Chris Rogers replaces Tom Harrell on 4 &5.
Recorded in November 1990 at East Side Sound NYC

Frank Griiffith is currently resident in the UK working as a musical educator in a University and leading his excellent Nonet at Jazz Festivals, Clubs and concerts around the UK, as well as making solo appearances. (See my review on this site 18/2/02 of the Nonet’s Ealing Jazz Festival performance). This CD was made in 1990, before he left NYC with what has turned out to be an all-star line up. Tom Harrell is now regarded as a leading trumpet/flugel player on a worldwide basis, Chris Rogers the other trumpet player used, played with the enormously successful Gerry Mulligan Concert Band. The rhythm section is of the calibre rarely heard outside the various capital cities, where jazz has a genuine following.

Frank studied jazz composition at Manhattan School of Music where he completed a Master’s degree, before going on to study with Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam. He wrote six of the compositions played here and is also responsible for the arrangements on the other tracks.

Each track is extremely satisfying to listen to; Frank’s warm tone and Tom Harrell’s inventive trumpet playing are a heady mixture. Of the first four tracks, my personal favourite is The Suspect, a minor blues, which produced excellent solos from everyone and on which the rhythm drive the whole thing along magnificently.

For Lonely Evening, Frank plays Soprano and Chris Rogers replaces Harrel on flugel. Pianist Joel Weiskopf wrote this tune and plays a major solo before Chris Rogers is heard to good effect.

The theme of I’ll Be Around, the Alec Wilder tune, is played by Frank with great warmth against some thoughtful accompaniment from guitar and piano. I liked this track because of the respect everyone has for such a great piece of music; it would be a shame to ‘razz’ it beyond recognition.

JCC is a blues that Frank wrote for bassist Ron Carter, another very enjoyable track demonstrating that these very sophisticated musicians have not lost touch with their roots.

Libery Bell is bebop inspired Griffith tune on which both he and Chris Rogers play excellent solos. The album concludes with another of Frank’s compositions Ricochet, based on the I Got Rhythm changes, this one cooks along in great style.

This is an excellent album, I particularly liked the fact that it is brimming with ideas and dazzling displays of technique, but it doesn’t forget that if it don’t swing it ain’t jazz.

Don Mather


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