Like many others, my introduction to Jimmy Giuffre came via the film "Jazz on a Summer's Day", where his soundtrack accompaniment of "The Train and the River" provided the perfect backdrop for the opening. This compilation is broadly contemporaneous, the first two albums dating from January 1959. "7 Pieces" features the Jimmy Giuffre Trio, with Jimmy playing clarinet, tenor & baritone sax, backed by Jim Hall on guitar and Red Mitchell on drums. For some strange reason Giuffre's sleeve note is written in the third person. "Ad Lib" features the Jimmy Giuffre 4, with Jimmy doubling on clarinet and tenor, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Red Mitchell on bass and Lawrence Marable on drums. "In Person" was recorded in August 1960, again with a quartet, Jimmy's clarinet & tenor sax accompanied by Jim Hall on guitar, Buell Neidlinger on bass and Billy Osborne on drums. Finally, three tracks are included from "The Four Brothers Sound", which involved a trio of Jimmy on tenor, Jim Hall on guitar and Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone recorded in June 1958, and later overlaid with three more tenor sax contributions by Jimmy, but for "Ode to Switzerland" which is unaccompanied.
The mood of "7 Pieces" is highly introspective, with Jimmy deploying a hard, breathy reed tone, and the bass much in evidence throughout. "Ad Lib" in Jimmy's own words, is a blowing album, and the more satisfying for it, not least because it enables the rest of the group to stretch out also. "In Person" by contrast seems more relaxed, and includes a luminescent "My Funny Valentine". The final three tracks of this compilation are multi-layered compositions which seem to me the most satisfying from a listener's point of view. Partly that's because none of them exceeds five minutes in length, whereas some of the complete albums include tracks of nine minutes plus, where the law of diminishing returns begins to operate. But that, I hasten to add, is a personal view which may safely be disregarded.