Rayford Griffin: Reflections of Brownie (RazorEdge)

Review by John Stevenson

Ace drummer and Clifford Brown’s nephew, Rayford Griffin, imaginatively updates a brace of selections associated with the legendary trumpeter.

The funk and smooth jazz inflected arrangements are abundantly tasteful and chock full of infectious grooves. ‘Daahoud’ comes in on the heels of PeeWee Marquette’s inimitable voice in an archival sound clip introducing “the trumpet sensation, Clifford Brown”. Griffin’s percussive presence dominates this self-produced session (recorded on his RazorEdge imprint) without being overwhelming.

rayfordgriffin7The late George Duke supplies keyboard accompaniment alongside a slew of top-drawer artists, such as Philippe Saisse, Roy Hargrove, Brian Bromberg and Everette Harp. Particularly delightful is ‘Joy Spring’, with its highly danceable backbeat.

Duke Pearson’s ‘Jordu’, harking back to the epic Clifford Brown & Max Roach album of 1954, throws the accent on an outstanding solo spot from Michael ‘Patches’ Stewart. Recordings such as this one will succeed in drawing otherwise smooth jazz audiences into the hard-bop layer of the jazz tradition.