Jimmy Giuffre (1921–2008) taught and coached jazz ensembles at NEC from 1978 through 1994, when ill health made it no longer possible for him to teach. He died April 24, 2008, two days shy of his 87th birthday. Giuffre's "Train and the River" was performed at the inauguration of NEC President Tony Woodcock in October 2007.
Jimmy Giuffre performed with virtually all of the jazz greats, including Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Among the musicians with NEC affiliations who performed in trio and quartet configurations with Giuffre: current NEC ensemble coach Bob Nieske and former faculty members Paul Bley and Bob Brookmeyer.
Giuffre was twice named Outstanding Clarinetist in the Down Beat Reader's Poll and was the first-ranked clarinetist in both Podium (Germany) and Melody Maker (England) jazz magazines. He toured the U.S. and Europe with his own ensemble beginning in 1956, and performed at the Newport Jazz Festival. The classic film document of the Newport festival, Jazz on a Summer's Day, includes footage of Giuffre performing with Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall.
Giuffre received a Guggenheim Fellowship for composition and is the author of Aspects of Jazz Performance…a Personal Approach.
B.M., North Texas State University. Clarinet with Arthur Bloom; composition with Wesley La Violette; reed making with Kal Opperman; flute with Jimmy Politis. Recordings for Atlantic, Columbia, Verve, Capitol, Soul Note, Choice, ECM. Former faculty of New York University and Shool of Jazz in Lenox, Mass.
in photo: Jimmy Giuffre (second from left) performing with NEC students in 1990
A memorial concert was held at NEC on October 2, 2008, and a recording is available for listeners at NEC's Firestone Library.