Grant Green – Green Street – Blue Note /Analogue Productions

by | Jun 6, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Grant Green – Green Street – Blue Note /Analogue Productions stereo-only SACD CBNJ 84071 SA, 54:24 (Distr. by Harmonia mundi) ****:

(Grant Green, guitar; Ben Tucker, bass; Dave Bailey, drums)

Grant Green’s prolific output for Blue Note Records can be categorized into three areas: sessions cut with piano or organ, those with horns, and the guitar trio dates. Each has their own special appeal as Green serves more of a supporting role on the horn issues, and the Hammond B-3 juices up the mix when it is present. However, for Green guitar fans there is nothing like the trio issues when Grant is front and center stage. His playing then is the sole focus. Grant was never “showy” but his lean blues based finger work has an appeal that was seldom matched in the 1960s, Green’s most prolific period.

Grant was as busy as a bee in 1961 when Green Street was recorded, as he recorded six dates as a leader that year, a feat you would not find today. In addition,  Green was on numerous Blue Note LPs that year as an important sideman. He must have had a bed in the back room of engineer Rudy Van Gelder’s studio….

Green Street features Grant with superb rhythm section mates, Ben Tucker on bass, and steady Dave Bailey on drums. Green penned three of the five titles, with the addition of Monk’s “Round About Midnight”, and the Dietz/ Schwartz composition, “Alone Together.”

As usual the SACD mastering dream team of Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman, have done their impeccable handiwork here. The SACD acoustics on Green Street are beyond reproach. Each instrument’s strengths are so “in the room” you want to make sure you have a good sight line of your speakers as it feels the trio stopped by for a visit. Green’s notes are crystalline, the bass fingerings of Ben Tucker are full and steady, and Dave Bailey has never sounded better on drums than he does here. Green’s concentration was on single note playing as he avoided chordal playing.

Green adds trills on “No. 1 Green Street” as he rips off chorus after chorus of runs. His understated playing is sophisticated, yet cool. Tucker and Bailey follow and support Green with a rock solid background for him to show off his talents. “Round About Midnight” is taken at a intimate, moody pace, and you can imagine an early AM jazz club with patrons nursing their drinks.

“Grant’s Dimensions” is also about setting a mood, here just a bit more lively with Bailey’s drumming taking a more prominent role. “Green With Envy” is taken at a shuffle like pace with Ben Tucker locked in like a metronome. “Alone Together” elicits Green’s most bluesy playing on the date. Alternate takes of “Green Envy” and “Alone Together” were added by Blue Note on the 1995 issue and are included here as well, a nice opportunity to get more Green for your buck.

There have been so many legendary jazz guitar players (Kenny Burrell, Herb Ellis, and Freddie Green come to mind), that you can argue until the cows come home on the merits of your favorite. In my estimation, though, it would be a mistake to not include Grant Green in any list of Hall of Fame jazz guitarists.

Green Street is a nice addition to his Idle Moments, also an Analogue Productions SACD issue. Those that favor additional instruments will take to the latter while true jazz guitar fanatic audiophiles will most likely invest in a walk on Green Street. Both will be money well spent.

TrackList: No.1 Green Street, ‘Round About Midnight, Grant’s Dimensions, Green with Envy, Alone Together, & alternate takes of Green with Envy and Alone Together

– Jeff Krow

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