The 1950s was the golden age of the recorded jam session. Although jams had been part of jazz since at least the 1920s, the rise of the LP meant that in the 1950s, recordings were no longer limited to just three minutes apiece. Whether it was the Norman Granz jam sessions and his live Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts, or a series of jam sessions led by Gene Ammons and Buck Clayton, musicians were finally free to stretch out and challenge each other on records. Of all of the jams, Johnny Griffin’s A Blowing Session has a special place in jazz history. It is the only time that Griffin, John Coltrane and Hank Mobley met up on record. Although they all played tenor, each of their sounds was distinctive and quite different from each other on this 1957 set. Griffin is a powerhouse, able to play very fast lines with passion and brilliance. Coltrane is a searching innovator, pushing ahead and constantly coming up with new ideas. Mobley, who could have been easily overshadowed by the other two, wisely chose to play the opposite of the other tenors, leaving more space and creating melodic lines that are full of subtle surprises. With trumpeter Lee Morgan also contributing some fiery ideas and the all-star rhythm section never letting the music coast, the three tenors created a jam session classic and one of the most exciting recordings of the decade.
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