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Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophonist

Johnny Griffin, 80, among the finest jazz tenor saxophonists to develop after World War II and whose robust style -- along with his modest height -- earned him the title the Little Giant, died July 25 at his home in Availles-Limouzine, a village about 150 miles southwest of Paris. No cause of death was reported.
The Chicago-born Griffin emerged as a top-flight player in the 1950s, when he performed with saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Thelonious Monk's quartet and drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
Mr. Griffin was a masterful improviser in hard bop, a swaggering, blues-inflected branch of swing music played at breakneck speed.
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By Patricia Sullivan  |  July 25, 2008; 4:34 PM ET
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