Jimmy Giuffre 3 – 1961

Author: Colin | Published: 10/4/10

Artist Jimmy Giuffre 3
Title 1961
Label ECM
Year 1961
Designer Barbara Wojirsch, photos: Herb Snitzer
Music Essential
Desktop Download image
Notes I’m a huge fan of the late Texan clarinettist Jimmy Giuffre, particularly the three studio albums that he recorded with Steve Swallow and Paul Bley. They made music informed by jazz and composition which reached deep into silence and the blues to create an atavistic music that sounds absolutely vital and remains highly contemporary half a century later.

1961 is a two disc reissue of the trio’s albums Fusion and Thesis. I’m not sure why it was renamed 1961, I prefer the original titles, but otherwise this release is wonderful. Herb Snitzer’s photography is stunning, particularly that last image of the three men walled in by baffles and framed by microphone booms. Each image conveys the sense of thought and introspection out of which the music must surely have been born. And the space and clarity of Barbara Wojirsch’s layout – most visible on the front and back cover – is a perfect visual accompaniment to the music.

1961 is available from ECM on vinyl as well. If I had too much (enough?) money I’d own both. I’m still unsure whether the CD was the right decision. Having said that, and although there are precious few jewel cases featured here on Hard Format, I do feel a certain affection for the confident functionalism of the double width CD case.

I managed to find two small images of the original covers (though on second thoughts, the Thesis cover looks like it may be a later Verve reissue):

If you hear and enjoy the music on these albums then Free Fall, the final studio recording by the trio is absolutely essential. Likewise the double live set, tragically long out of print, on Hat Art: Emphasis & Flight 1961 and the Graz 27 October 1961 bootleg.

See also:
Designers: ECM, Barbara Wojirsch, Dieter Rehm
Rare sighting of Barbara Wojirsch


  1. I may have to delve into this, sounds really interesting. ECM releases always look great, and this one in particular.

    Comment by Ian Hazeldine — April 13, 2010 @ 2:57 pm
  2. Hello Ian, these albums are available on Spotify if you have access to it.

    Comment by Colin — April 13, 2010 @ 3:11 pm
  3. My name is Mark and I live in Queens, NYC in the United States. I saw this great page with the above comments this morning. It’s great to share enthusiasm for Jimmy Giuffre – it’s the gift that keeps on giving. I just started a blog and wrote a tribute this weekend based on the recent release of the 4 CD Box Set w/ Jim Hall. Please visit my blog, sign up as a follower – I hope you enjoy the article, I look forward to hearing your feedback – feel free to leave your comments by my Jimmy Giuffre article at: http://marksmusicloft.blogspot.com/ – Thanks, Mark

    Comment by Mark Redlefsen — August 23, 2010 @ 3:20 pm
  4. the front cover photo is beautifully timeless, very evocative – a bit wordy on the reverse side, e.g. timings, which could have gone into the booklet. but all in al, it’s ECM, what more can one say?!

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