If it's true what they say about nothing being more dangerous than an idea whose time has come, then drummer extraordinaire Rayford Griffin's long-awaited first CD as a leader is destined to have a ruthless impact.
In his journey, Rayford has lent his drumming magic to a diverse resume of world class artists ranging from Michael Jackson, Stanley Clarke, George Duke and Jean-Luc Ponty to Bette Midler, Anita Baker and Patrice Rushen. Now Rayford emerges from the drum riser to equally showcase his writing, arranging, drumming and his singing gifts on his phenomenal CD Debut "Rebirth of The Cool."
Much of the album was conceived and recorded in Rayford's Razoredge studio, allowing him plenty of relaxed time to develop the material along the way. "I didn't want to beat people over the head with an album of drum solos, odd meters and fast playing," Rayford shares. "Though I do flex some of those muscles, I wanted to be as musical as possible with something for everybody and also show how drums could be a part of that without being offensive."
That's quite a statement coming from a drummer whose concert solos have brought fellow players and lay people alike to their feet with awe, appreciation and an adrenaline rush. It was the drum solos of Art Blakey and Max Roach on albums by his late, lamented uncle, trumpeter Clifford Brown, that lured him to the drums. Griffin is a technical master who brings to his towering arsenal of drums and percussion toys an engrained knack for groove and a graceful style that is always complementary to anyone with whom he plays. Rebirth of the Cool completes this portrait of the artist as so much more.
The album is a decidedly personal and contemporary take on Rayford's appreciation of tradition. The heart of the music is rooted in a tangy fusion of raw funk and relentlessly swingin' jazz ("Lids and Squares" and "Kings"), but there are also songs of melodic beauty and radio-friendly panache ("Everytime I See U" and "In Your Eyes"). There are blazin' jazz-rock fusion workouts ("Coffee" and "Folake'") that will have aspiring drummers getting out there notepads. There is also a dynamic straight-ahead number ("Jazzi Ray") that recalls the aural signature of big band great, Neil Hefti.