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Fourth and final

This Friday marks the fourth and final instalment of Bethnal Green in Jazz –  Aldevis Tibaldi’s project to celebrate the ‘various and eclectic’ nature of the genre. The past three Fridays have featured gems of the jazz world – Rebel Yell Orchestra,  The Liam Dunachie Quartet and Aldevis Tibaldi’s own London Jazz Ensemble. Now the final flourish comes on the 22nd of May with a performance from The Frank Griffith Sextet.

Born in Eugene, Oregon in 1959, Frank Griffith grew up surrounded by music. However, desiring to be different from his sisters who played the piano, and inspired by music teachers and his parents’ jazz collection, he discovered the clarinet. Frank now boasts a renowned repertoire and reputation in clarinet and saxophone, which comes as no surprise given his journey through the jazz scene. Whilst living in New York City in the 80s and early 90s Frank played with Ron Carter, Buddy Rich and Mel Tormé to name a few, whilst his compositions and arrangements were snapped up by Lionel Hampton Orchestra, the Jon Hendricks Explosion and the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra.

Moving to England in 1996, he quickly immersed himself in the UK jazz scene, recording his debut album The Suspect (Hepjazz) in 1999 and going on to record other celebrated albums such as his Nonet’s The Coventry Suite (33 Records 33 JAZZ 112), exposing his natural talent: Simply listening to the way Griffith lays out the theme of a standard such as ‘Where or When’ is a pleasure in itself and his own tenor saxophone playing is a model of compact energy (Dave Gelly, The Observer).

Frank is now a Music Lecturer and Director of Performance at Brunel University, with research interests including jazz soundtracks to films, composition and the music and legacy of Sir John Dankworth, who himself was “without equivocation…delighted” by Frank’s work.

Joined by some booming British brass in the form of Ed Benstead on trumpet and Rob Dowell on trombone, Friday promises a sparkling set of Cedar Walton, Benny Golson, Tadd Dameron and Joe Zawinul as well as Frank’s own pieces. Whether jazz-lover or new discoverer, this final set of sumptuous sounds is not to be missed.

Text: Arpita Ashok