Dick Griffin is one of today's leading trombone players. In a career spanning over 30 years, he has performed with some of the biggest names in Jazz and Soul, as well as appearing with several symphony orchestras. A short list of the luminaries Mr. Griffin has worked with includes: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tito Puente, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, James Brown, Harry Belafonte, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Hampton. Griffin has developed a highly personalized playing style which he calls 'circularphonics'. His ability to combine playing chords on the trombone with circular breathing is unrivaled among Jazz trombonists. The expanded range of simultaneous sounds Griffin creates through his multiphonic technique sometimes evokes the spirit of such experimental Jazz musicians as John Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Sun Ra. Never a follower, Griffin has moved beyond the course set by these pioneering giants to develop a unique style on and for an instrument which has hardly been the most widely used in modern Jazz. This is his story . . . James Richard Griffin was born and reared in Jackson, Mississippi. His first musical influence was a neighbor known simply as Mr. Jesse. At evening time, all the neighborhood children would stop by to hear Mr. Jesse's impromptu blues guitar compositions with lyrics describing the day's events in rhyme. Griffin began studying piano at age 11 and, two years later, upon entering high school joined the school's marching band where he learned trombone. His professional career began as a teenager, playing piano and trombone in clubs with classmate Freddie Waits on drums. He also sang in a doo-wop group which, upon winning a competition, was asked to tour with Sam Cooke. In college, Griffin won several awards for his arranging skills. In 1963, Griffin graduated from Jackson State University and taught for two years in Columbia Mississippi. One of his students was the great running back, Walter Payton. Griffin then pursued his graduate studies at Indiana University where he received a Masters Degree in Music Education and Trombone. It was in Chicago, however, where Griffin met avant garde jazz giant Sun Ra, that his professional career seriously took off. He spent several summers in the mid-1960s playing with Sun Ra's Arkestra. It was also during this period that Griffin first met Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who would become a close friend. After moving to New York City in 1967, Griffin made his recording debut with Kirk on the album The Inflated Tear. As a member of the Vibration Society, Griffin notated and transcribed music for the sightless Kirk. He went on to record several albums with Kirk, including Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle, Rahsaan, Rahsaan, Left & Right, and Volunteered Slavery. In the early 1970s, Griffin played in a big band fronted by the great bassist and composer Charles Mingus. During this year-long association, Mingus provided priceless support by encouraging the young trombonist's writing endeavors. Griffin also spent three years in the house band of the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, playing for nearly all the Motown greats including The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Isaac Hayes and Gladys Knight. In 1974, Griffin released his debut album as a leader, The Eighth Wonder, for Strata-East Records, one of the most successful independent jazz labels of that period. Later, he released Now Is The Time: The Multiphonic Tribe for Trident Records. During this period, he also taught music theory and the history of Jazz at Wesleyan University and later at SUNY-Old Westbury. He was also the recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In the 1980s, Griffin's career encompass.
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