Reference: FSRCD 548
Bar code: 8427328605489
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"Griffin's first date featured the saxophonist in the company of Junior Mance on piano, bassist Wilbur Ware, and session drummer Buddy Smith. The program features eight tunes that were fairly standard fare for jazzmen in 1956, such as "These Foolish Things," Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," and the Youmans-Greene nugget "The Boy Next Door." These are played with the requisite verve and mastery of harmony, rhythm, and melodic changes [...] What does stand out in this program are Griffin's originals, such as "Satin Wrap," which has since been covered by any tenor player worth his mouthpiece. It's a funky blues number that does not fall headlong into the hard bop swinging that would be so pervasive in the tenorist's style. Instead there are more formalist notions that suggest Paul Gonsalves and Coleman Hawkins. In addition, the album-closer, "Lollypop," comes out swinging hard with an R&B hook that digs in. Mance propels Griffin with fat, greasy chords that suggest a Chicago bar-walking honk frenzy, but Griffin's own playing is too sophisticated and glides like Lester Young around the changes. Also notable here is Ware's beautiful bop run "Riff Raff." The bassist knew not only how to write for but arrange for horns. Mance and Griffin are in it knee-deep, note for note, with Mance adding beefy left-hand clusters to the melody as Ware and Smith play it straight time until the solo. It's got the hard bop blues at its root. This recording is brief, as it originally came out on a 10" LP, but is nonetheless a necessary addition to any shelf that pays Johnny Griffin homage."
Thom Jurek -All Music Guide
-The Chicago Sound
"Bassist Wilbur Ware's only recording as a leader (which has been reissued on CD) mostly features Chicago musicians. Although Ware heads the set and contributed two originals, he does not dominate the music and delegated plenty of solo space to altoist John Jenkins (who also brought in two tunes), tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, and pianist Junior Mance; Wilbur Campbell or Frank Dunlop on drums complete the group. This fine hard bop date (which also has versions of "Body and Soul," Stuff Smith's "Desert Sands," "Lullaby of the Leaves," and "The Man I Love") was a fine debut by Ware. It seems strange that in his remaining 20-plus years the bassist never led another album."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
The group of modern Chicagoans on this album had much experience working together, and strikingly similar approaches to jazz: they were joined by much more than just coincidence of birthplace. Here is the sound of Johnny Griffin, a hard blowing tenorman, full of soul, authority and individuality, on his debut album as a leader. With him are bassist Wilber Ware, notable for the strong, firm beat he lays down, and the unusual, genuinely creative solos he constructs, Julian Junior Mance, a swinging modern pianist with an emotional link to jazz tradition, and Buddy Smith, a New Orleans drummer, but Chicagoan by adoption, who grooves with vigor and rhythmic drive.
The second album in this set was Wares idea. John Jenkins, an exceedingly promising alto, was younger than his Chicago colleagues but had played with them often and was a welcome addition to the group. Heavily contributing to the excitement generated by the blowing of the horns is the unfailing Wilbur Campbell, a firm and imaginative drummer. It all adds up to what epitomizes The Chicago Sound.