Jazzman Giuffre Dead at 86

Adventurous instrumentalist and composer Jimmy Giuffre was a '50s jazz hero
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2008 6:26 AM CDT

(Newser) – The iconoclastic clarinetist and composer Jimmy Giuffre died Thursday, two days before what would have been his 87th birthday, the New York Times reports. The Texas-born jazz legend's 50-year career took him from big-band hits with Woody Herman to minimalist trios, with a stint playing in mess halls as a GI in WWII. Giuffre's experimental, blues-infused styling made him a leading figure in the '50s "cool jazz" scene.

Giuffre's releases in the '60s—"moody, overlapping improvisations with no fixed key or tempo"—didn't enjoy much commercial success at the time, but on their reissue in the '90s, awed critics realized he had been a pioneer for the "long-distance future," Ben Ratliff writes.