Steve Griggs Quintet featuring Elvin Jones – Jones For Elvin Vol:2

Jones For Elvin Vol:2
Jones For Elvin Vol:2
Steve Griggs Quintet
featuring Elvin Jones
(Hip City Music – 2000)
by John Barrett

Steve Griggs got the phone number from a friend, and called up his musical idol. Soon the plane came into Seattle: all had departed, including the crew – and suddenly Elvin appeared. Time flew after that: three days in a resonant studio, playing as on a live date (no dubs, no headphones.) The first number played was “Reunion Dues”, a 6/4 tune with a 6/8 bridge. Milo Petersen floats spooky chords, an the famous cymbals get busy. The rainy-day theme sounds tentative, but wait for the solos: Griggs has growl, building to a Coltrane scream. (Without copying the man; that is important.) Jay Thomas is mellow, setting notes carefully with a wee bit of rasp. The mood is grey, unrelenting; Elvin keeps the rain falling.

“The More I See You” is a neat bit of samba: Elvin goes tropical and Steve honks a little funk. Stronger than before, his confidence shows … and it’s contagious. Now give the drummer some: “Zones for Elvin” lets him run wild, as Thomas spreads muted calm. The mood is classical, and Elvin goes deep: tom-toms played like tympani, and lots of cymbals. As Steve says, “Learning from Elvin is pure, transcendent joy.” So is listening to him.

Horns ripple through “Kavanah”, a gentle thing which means “devotion in prayer”. Thomas is sleek, while Steve adds a nice rumpled tone. This is a kiss, and very heartfelt. “Oscar’s Osculation” walks big (Phil Sparks’ bass has a major bounce) and it also shouts strong. Steve is tough, ripping two-note rhythms with great intensity. Elvin’s fills are stronger than ever, and listen to Milo’s splashy chords. The ending is a keeper: Trane whistles mixed with towering brass – and Elvin is the steady center.

“Keiko’s Kinochi” is an angular bit of soul-jazz, something that would fit on a ‘Sixties Blue Note. Milo comps warmly, with Steve his most Trane-like. Maybe too much of a resemblance; when Jay comes in, Steve hums softly and packs a lot of charm. And “Chromatic Carioca” is what you’d expect: little steps and Brazilian sunshine. Steve does some hollering (with a quote of “A Love Supreme:); Jay goes sassy on his best solo. Not as flashy as Volume One (that had a lot of hard-bop goodies) but does the job in its unassuming way. A fine display for Elvin and his sidemen; this was truly a band.