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Gigi Gryce

Gigi Gryce

Alto Saxophone
November 28, 1925 -- March 17, 1983

Gigi Gryce



"When evaluating Gryce's contribution it seems that he sometimes suffered in being grouped with other 'hard-boppers' of the younger New York school. Although he frequently collaborated with these musicians, Gryce, together with others more lyrically inclined, was heading in another direction."

--David Griffith


Alto saxophonist, arranger, and composer Gigi Gryce grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and began studies in composition with Daniel Pinkham and Alan Hovhaness at the Boston Conservatory in 1948. Having won a Fullbright scholarship, he contiued his studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honegger. After his return to the USA he became involved in jazz in New York, where he performed and recorded with Max Roach, Howard McGhee, Tadd Dameron, and Clifford Brown in 1953. Later that year he toured Europe with Lionel Hampton's band.

In 1954 he recorded with Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Thelonious Monk and others, and then the following year he began leading his own group, the Jazz Lab Quintet, which also included Byrd. In the 1960s he ceased playing jazz professionally and became a teacher.

Besides his principal instrument Gryce played clarinet and flute. His style was heavily influenced by Charlie Parker, though he had a thinner tone than Parker and lacked his melodic inventiveness. His skills as an arranger are represented by his recordings with Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and Oscar Pettiford. His best-known jazz composition is "Minority." Among his classical compositions are three symphonies and various chamber works.


--THOMAS OWENS, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz


The period during which this recording was done was one of entrenchment in New York for Art Farmer. He had returned from Europe in the fall of 1953, after touring with Lionel Hampton's band, and settled down in Manhattan. With his former Hampton colleague, Gigi Gryce, Art formed a quintet that recorded for Prestige but didn't work too often.

By 1955, the jazz climate in New York had improved with a shift in policy of the Cafe Bohemia, which became the focal point and gathering place for musicians and aware listeners. Farmer and Gryce played with Oscar Pettiford at that Greenwich Village club, and also were able to work on their own. They recorded three times for Prestige, twice in 1955; first in May and again in September. The only constant in the rhythm section was Addison Farmer, Art's twin brother, who died tragically in February of 1963 before reaching his 35th birthday.

Gryce, with his writing skills and increasing prowess on the saxophone, co-led the Jazz Lab Quintet with Donald Byrd in the late '50s, and eventually formed his own group featuring Richard Williams. This latter combo is well-known to the Prestige audience through their recordings of the early '60s. In 1963, Gryce has been strangely silent, reportedly hibernating on Long Island.

--IRA GITLER, from the liner notes,
Art Farmer Quintet, Prestige.


A selected discography of Gigi Gryce albums.


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