The Troy Street Observer

April 26, 1960: Rollins Griffith’s Nonet

Photo of Rollins Griffith
Rollins Griffith, late 1960s

The Rollins Griffith Nonet, which included bassist Bernie Griggs and drummer Baggy Grant in the rhythm section with the bandleader, appeared in concert at the Hotel Bradford on April 26, 1960.

Rollins Griffith graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1949 and worked around town, but his first significant job came in 1952 at the Hi-Hat, as pianist in Hi Lockhart’s house band. When that ended in 1953, he moved over to Storyville, first in a trio with Slam Stewart and Marquis Foster, then with Jimmy Woode and Jo Jones. In January 1954, Griffith, along with Foster and Woode, played with Charlie Parker at the Hi-Hat, a session later released on record. Then we don’t hear much from him until 1959, possibly because he was earning two masters degrees, one in music from Boston University and the other in education from Boston State College.

In June 1959, Griffith rolled out a nonet for the Boston Arts Festival, sharing the stage with Herb Pomeroy’s orchestra. The nonet worked sporadically for about a year, including this two-night gig in the Bradford’s Grand Ballroom. Other than some trio work in 1960–61, the nonet marked the end of Griffith’s active jazz career. His day job became all-important.

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