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A Blowin' Session Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, May 18, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

This freewheeling 1957 session features three of the finest tenor saxophonists of the hard-bop genre--Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, and John Coltrane. While tenor battles have been a feature of jazz since the '30s, the three here are so distinctive in their approaches that it's musicality that reigns and even the new listener will soon identify the three saxophonists' sounds. Griffin has been billed as the world's fastest saxophonist, a hard claim to verify, but few would argue with his aplomb as he tears off electrifying solos, negotiating quicksilver arpeggios with a gruff sound and the blues-tinged wail that he had mastered in Joe Morris's rhythm & blues band. Mobley's approach was more subdued, producing inventive streams of melody even in these heated circumstances, while Coltrane was already the most adventurous of the three, pressing the changes for new harmonic extensions. Bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Blakey are both supportive and forceful, while trumpeter Lee Morgan and pianist Wynton Kelly add some variety to the dominant tenor voices. --Stuart Broomer

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Song Title Time Price
  1. The Way You Look Tonight (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (1999 Digital Remaster) 9:41Album Only
  2. Ball Bearing (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (1999 Digital Remaster) 8:11Album Only
  3. All The Things You Are (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (1999 Digital Remaster)10:14Album Only
  4. Smoke Stack (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (1999 Digital Remaster)10:13Album Only
  5. Smoke Stack (Alternate Take) (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (1999 Digital Remaster)11:00Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 18, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: 1989
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00000IWW8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,929 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 1999
Format: Audio CD
as the liner notes inform us, this album happened by accident. griffin and hank mobley were scheduled for a dual sax date, when on the way to van gelder's studio, they ran into john coltrane setting up an impromptu sax summit. and what a meeting it was! this album cooks from start to finish with the three tenors (jazz style), pushing and reaching for higher and higher moments. it is a lot of fun to go along for the ride. in one sense, its too bad because the rest of the musicians here are also outstanding (wynton kelly on piano and lee morgan on trumpet, for example) and they don't have a lot of room to solo with these three giants going at it. oh, well... maybe some day they'll unearth lost masters of this session with 30 or 40 minute workouts! this album is a good introduction to griffin, who has spent much of his career as an expatriate musician in europe. he took a full-bodied, r&b approach to music, but with a subtle and deep touch. a great re-release!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G B on June 30, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is a great album for lots of reasons. It features three of the most distinct stylists on tenor saxophone, as well as an up-and-coming star on trumpet; the tunes (two standards and two Griffin tunes) bring out the best in the first-rate musicians; and the jam-session nature of the recording gives it a relaxed, spontaneous feeling. Johnny Griffin, the least known of the saxophonists, is unbelievable -- you won't believe your ears as he rockets through several choruses of the warp-speed "The Way You Look Tonight" but nevers loses sight of the blues. Hank Mobley's mellow, lyrical playing provides a great foil to his more aggressive counterparts. John Coltrane, then in his layoff from the Miles Davis group and beginning his tenure with Thelonious Monk, shows his rapidly evolving, harmonically challenging style. Lee Morgan is really inspired on this recording, and the rhythm section is incredible: Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Art Blakey. Blakey is on fire here, by the way; just listen to him trading choruses with Griffin! This is essential listening for anyone who likes 50s hard bop.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Caponsacchi HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Few occasions can produce as much musical excitement as a gladiatoral meeting of tough tenors. An all too rare event these days, if you came of age in Chicago in the '60's and '70's you had bountiful opportunities both on the South Side (McKee's Show Lounge) and North (Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase) to hear the strongest and most personal voices on the instrument--Stitt, Jug, Dex, Moody, Jaws, Cohn, Sims, Turrentine, Ira, and Griff-- taking after each other in pairs, threes, and sometimes in fours. No recording can do justice to capturing such moments, but few, in my (apparently minority) opinion, fall as short as "Blowin' Session."

Some of the blame lies with the programming. There's no shortage of Griffin to be heard, but the presence of Lee Morgan simply deprives both Mobley and Trane of comparable blowing time. But the real downer on this session is the quality of the audio. Who would have ever thought it possible to practically "homogenize" voices as distinctive as those of Griffin, Mobley, and Coltrane? The sonic canvas is depthless and dimensionless, the horns miked so closely that each is constantly on the verge of breaking up. Griffin's sound, in fact, is distorted throughout much of the program, a relentlessly grating roughness that makes it difficult to appreciate his normally crisp articulations and fluent melodic lines. Mobley and Coltrane, though artificially boosted in the sonic mix, come off better, thanks to Hank's less aggressive approach and to Trane's characteristically unforced use of the altissimo register. Overall, Coltrane's playing is surprisingly conservative on this session and his role quite limited.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By BebopBoomer on March 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Though this CD gets 5 stars from most of your reviewers, and appears on a number of "best ever" lists, I'd like to offer an emphatic dissent.First the good things. The rhythm section is excellent,(even if Art Blakey is typically a bit overpowering), both generally and in its limited solo space. And Lee Morgan's playing is excellent. I've never heard him play less than well; he had it all--ideas,tone,technique,fire,taste.Mobley and Coltrane play well, though nothing here will startle or excite anyone familiar with their work around this time.

As for the Johnny Griffin of the 50's:sure,he's one of the fastest horns in the West,but as a musician his talent ended at the wrists.Endless cockroach-on-the-keys scrambling up and down his horn,very little in the way of ideas,a harsh and at times plain out-of-tune upper register that sometimes sounded like somebody had stepped on a poodle. If you want to hear the difference between a real improvising musician and a cram-everything-in speed demon, compare the Monk-Sonny Rollins version of "Misterioso" with the Monk-Griffin version (each recorded right around this time). But JG is the dominant force/voice on this album,unfortunately. Sheer technical virtuosity has always played a role in jazz, but in the best jazz there's always a lot else besides. That's not the case here.
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