Frank Griffith joined Brunel in 1997 and is Director of Performance. Born in Eugene, Oregon in 1959, Frank resided in NYC from 1980-1995 and performed with Ron Carter, Mel Torme and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He also wrote arrangements for Lionel Hampton and the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
Frank has recorded three CDs for Hepjazz including The Suspect, featuring trumpeter, Tom Harrell(1990), The Frank Griffith Nonet, Live at the Ealing Jazz Festival, 2000 (2001) and Holland Park Non-Stop (2011) featuring the Frank Griffith Big Band. He also recorded The Coventry Suite(2003) featuring his nonet for the 33 Records label. He has also recorded with Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine on Jazz Matters (2007 Qnote).
Moving to London in 1996, Frank has received commissions from the Ealing and Coventry Jazz Festivals, the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra as well as The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and Oakham School Big Bands. He is currently writing a commission for the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) Big Band. He has also arranged for Norma Winstone, Tina May, Tony Coe and Lee Konitz.
Research and Teaching
Frank’s three main research areas are composition, improvisation and film music. He did an interview with jazz musician and composer, Sir John Dankworth in 2005 on his 1960s film scores which included Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, The Servant, The Criminal and Darling, among many others. This is published in The Journal of British Film and Television and can be accessed on www.jazzorg.com. I received two grants (from PALATINE (2002) and Brunel’s Learning and Teaching Development Unit (2007) to explore and study the teaching of improvisation especially to classical musicians or those who were quite frightened of improvising. This was documented in an article I wrote for Music Teacher magazine in May 2003.
His various compositions have included a work for clarinet and string quartet entitled Round About which includes some improvisation for the clarinet as well as putting the strings in the unique role of a “rhythm section” supporting the clarinet as opposed to playing as in a more mutually melodical interactive way together.
Teaching ActivityFrank teaches Improvisation, Performance Skills, Ensembles and Popular Music History. He developed the three Improvisation modules from scratch at Brunel which cover a wide array of styles and levels. Popular Music History also covers a wide variety of artists including Miles Davis, Burt Bacharach, Memphis Soul, James Brown and Steely Dan as well as Bob Dylan and The Beatles, all of whom have influenced music of different styles. He also teaches a module, Popular Music Practice, which teaches practical techniques for gaining employment in the popular music field. These include using music copying software, transcribing and arranging music, as well as career development.
More about Frank
Frank contributes reviews and articles regularly to the MU Musician magazine, the Clarinet and Saxophone Society (CASS) journal and London Jazz - www.londonjazz.blogspot.com.
“I will say without equivocation that this latest assembly of Frank Griffith’s work has delighted me”. Sir John Dankworth.
“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.
“Griffith has loosely modelled his band on the sonorous harmonies and interlocking riffs of the 1950s, with Gil Evans particularly favoured. It is a group sound in which riffs, textures and voicings take precedence over melody, and solos are tailored to the needs of the ensemble” Mike Hobart - The Financial Times
(2006) Griffith, FL., Jazz in 1960s British new wave cinema: An interview with Sir John Dankworth, Journal of British Cinema and Television 3 (2) : 330- 340 Download publication