Chris Griffin gone.....

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Solar Bell, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    I just read that Chris Griffin, a great big band player died this past week.

    He was truly a GREAT ONE.

    From George T. Simon's book, The Big Bands, talking about the Benny Goodman trumpet section, that Duke Ellington called "THe Eighth Wonder of the World"....

    "People used to argue about who was playing the potent lead trumpet in that section- Harry, Ziggy or Chris-for each could blow with convincing brilliance. Some fans persisted in crediting James for everything. But they were wrong about two-thirds of the time. James explains in his Metronome column of June, 1938:

    Harry James says;

    "I'm just one of the lead trumpeters in the band. There's no definate rule about dividing the first book, either-nothing like Chris taking all the pretty tunes and Ziggy and I dividing the ride numbers. We just get the first parts in rotation. If an arrangement comes in and it's Ziggy's turn to get the lead, he takes it; if it's Chris's turn, he takes it, and if it's my turn it's handed over to me."
    "The funny part is, though, that most people can't tell by listening which one of us is playing lead. And it seems funny that we should have such similar tones and style when we play so differently. Chris has a one-third top, two-thirds bottom emboucher, Ziggy's is two-thirds top and one-third bottom and dangerously close to his ear, while mine's a slightly off-center, half and half, puffed-out-cheek affair."

    Harry had a lot of respect for Chris.

    Rest in peace.

    Chuck Willard
  2. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Sorry to hear this news. I didn`t know Chris but had worked with his son Paul and I send my condolence`s.
  3. MFfan

    MFfan Fortissimo User

    Sep 13, 2006
    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Sorry to hear of his passing, although I must admit I didn't know he was still around after all these years. I was in that group that Harry said thought he played everything of prominence in the Goodman band. Thanks for that article. I do also think they had a similar sound .I didn't know until fairly recently more about Elman and Griffin's roles. Lots of power there with only 3 guys playing! Was just listening to the Carnegie recording the other day, co-incidentally. I have a copy of Simon's book and it is great. Wish I could remember more of the data in the book!:-( Not many of that era left. Condolences to the family, of course.
  4. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Realize, of course, that this thread is over 3 years old.

    I agree the Simon book is a very good read for anyone interested in the Big Band/Swing Era.

    That George Simon was a musician (not really, a drummer :roll:) and that he knew all of the guys makes the book even better.

  5. dstrad

    dstrad Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    One of the best "unkown" big band players. Here is a story - I was with my family on vacation in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania in the mid-70's. We were staying at the Tamiment Hotel. Each night the hotel would have a show with a singer and a comedian. Anyway, we go to the show and my father, (who is a trumpet player and taught instrumental music for 37 years), looks at the band and says, "I think that's Chris Griffin playing lead." I, being an ignorant 12 year old, proceed to ask who is Chris Griffin?" He then tells me that Chris was in the Benny Goodman trumpet section at the famous concert in Carnegie Hall. (He still has the original 45's of that concert) Long story short, after the show my dad takes me to meet him. He was an absolute gentlemen. Very gracious and unassuming. His son was also playing in the section. I saw him several times after that. He was a VERY consistent and tasteful player.

    God bless him.
  6. MaynardTrumpet

    MaynardTrumpet Pianissimo User

    May 25, 2008
    Thought you were talking about Family Guy for a moment.. Anyway RIP this great player.
  7. Bach219

    Bach219 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 25, 2008
    Same here Maynard. Sorry to hear of the loss!

Share This Page