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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This languid, seductive gem may well be Grant Green's greatest moment on record. Right from the opening bars of the classic title cut, Idle Moments is immediately ingratiating and accessible, featuring some of Green's most stylish straight jazz playing. Whether he's running warm (pianist Duke Pearson's "Idle Moments"), cool (the Modern Jazz Quartet's "Django"), or a bit more up-tempo (Pearson's "Nomad," his own "Jean de Fleur"), Green treats the material with the graceful elegance that was the hallmark of his best hard bop sessions, and that quality achieves its fullest expression here. He's helped by an ensemble that, as a sextet, is slightly larger and fuller-sounding than usual, and there's plenty of room for solo explorations on the four extended pieces. Pearson's touch on the piano is typically warm, while two players best known on Blue Note for their modernist dates mellow out a bit -- the cool shimmer of Bobby Hutcherson's vibes is a marvelously effective addition to the atmosphere, while Joe Henderson plays with a husky, almost Ike Quebec-like breathiness. That cushion of support helps spur Green to some of the loveliest, most intimate performances of his career -- no matter what the tempo, it's as if his guitar is whispering secrets in your ear. It's especially true on the dreamy title track, though: a gorgeous, caressing, near-15-minute excursion that drifts softly along like a warm, starry summer night. Even more than the two-disc set The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark, Idle Moments is the essential first Green purchase, and some of the finest guitar jazz of the hard bop era. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Grant Green's third album to be released, Grantstand teams the clear-toned guitarist with an unlikely backing group of musicians who rarely appeared with Blue Note otherwise: tenor saxophonist Yusef Lateef (who doubles on flute), organist Brother Jack McDuff, and drummer Al Harewood. Although Lateef was beginning to delve deeply into Eastern tonalities and instruments around the same time, his playing here is pretty straightforward and swinging, fitting the relaxed, bop-tinged soul-jazz that makes up most of the session. For his part, McDuff is mellower than his usual ferocious self, laying back and swinging with a blissful ease. Green contributes two bluesy originals, the nine-minute title track and the 15-minute "Blues in Maude's Flat," which are turned into loose, loping jams that rank as some of the best examples of Green's ability to work an extended groove. (The CD bonus track, "Green's Greenery," is in much the same vein, though not as long.) Elsewhere, Green leads a delicate, sensitive exploration of "My Funny Valentine" that ended up as his greatest standard performance to date, setting the stage for a great deal more work in this vein that was soon to be forthcoming (including his brilliant sessions with Sonny Clark). Still, the groove is what reigns supreme for most of the album; if you're looking for Green the soul-jazz groovemaster, Grantstand is an excellent place to find him. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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The third of three sessions Grant Green co-led with modal organist Larry Young and Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, I Want to Hold Your Hand continues in the soft, easy style of its predecessor, Street of Dreams. This time, however -- as one might guess from the title and cover photo -- the flavor is less reflective and more romantic and outwardly engaging. Part of the reason is tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, who takes Bobby Hutcherson's place accompanying the core trio. His breathy, sensuous warmth keeps the album simmering at a low boil, and some of the repertoire helps as well, mixing romantic ballad standards (often associated with vocalists) and gently undulating bossa novas. The title track -- yes, the Beatles tune -- is one of the latter, cleverly adapted and arranged into perfectly viable jazz that suits Green's elegant touch with pop standards; the other bossa nova, Jobim's "Corcovado," is given a wonderfully caressing treatment. Even with all the straightforward pop overtones of much of the material, the quartet's playing is still very subtly advanced, both in its rhythmic interaction and the soloists' harmonic choices. Whether augmented by an extra voice or sticking to the basic trio format, the Green/Young/Jones team produced some of the most sophisticated organ/guitar combo music ever waxed, and I Want to Hold Your Hand is the loveliest of the bunch. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1961 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1970 | Blue Note Records

Alive! is the hardest funk LP Grant Green recorded during the later phase of his career, capturing a storming gig at Newark's Cliché Lounge. The sweaty club atmosphere adds something to the music that's difficult to pin down, yet unmistakably present -- a certain organic quality that isn't as noticeable on Green's studio albums of the time. Moreover, Green sounds more like the captain of his ship, with greater assurance in his musical direction and more strut on the R&B material. Drummer Idris Muhammad is a monster in this live setting, and he helps push Green (plus the rest of the band, which includes organist Ronnie Foster) even farther with his kinetic, continually evolving funk rhythms. That's especially true on the swaggering Kool & the Gang cover "Let the Music Take Your Mind," but Don Covay's "Sookie, Sookie" grooves almost as powerfully. What's most surprising about the set, though, is that Green finds ways to work in bits of the modal style he had been pursuing in the mid-'60s on slower pieces like the Earl Neal Creque ballad "Time to Remember" and "Down Here on the Ground," which was later sampled by jazz-rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest. Green's continued interest in modal jazz is reinforced on the CD reissue, which contains a spacy, grooving cover of Herbie Hancock's classic "Maiden Voyage" as a bonus track (the other two are contemporary R&B covers "Hey, Western Union Man" and "It's Your Thing"). Still, this is the most convincing and consistent Green had been as a funkster and, while nearly all of his albums from the early '70s feature at least some worthwhile material for acid jazz and beat-sampling junkies, Alive! is probably the best place to start. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

The second album of Grant Green's thorough jazz-funk makeover, Green Is Beautiful finds the guitarist growing more comfortable with harder, funkier R&B than he seemed on the softer-hued Carryin' On. The switch from Fender Rhodes electric piano back to the more traditional Hammond organ certainly helps give the session a little extra grit, but it doesn't return Green to the land of soul-jazz by any means. Green Is Beautiful is still explicitly commercial and accessible to non-jazz audiences, and (purist objections notwithstanding) that's not necessarily a bad thing. Green's take on James Brown's "Ain't It Funky Now" is one of the funkiest items in his rare-groove period; it may be chordally very simple, but the groove is tight and percolating, and Green, tenor saxophonist Claude Bartee, and trumpeter Blue Mitchell all come up with hot, exciting solos. The album also benefits from Green's discovery of composer and occasional organist Earl Neal Creque, who contributes two bright, slinky, horn-driven originals: "The Windjammer," which became one of the signature tunes of Green's late period, and "Dracula." They help give the album a more original voice, and indicate that Green was actively making himself at home in his new musical environment, not just mixing dull originals with phoned-in covers of pop and R&B hits (as he and many other '70s Blue Note artists were accused of doing). Of course, there are still pop covers present -- the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" is a mellow, mid-tempo groove, and Bacharach's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" doesn't stray far from the melody. Even if those aren't particularly distinctive, the remainder of Green Is Beautiful proves that Green's reinvention as a jazz-funk artist wasn't the misguided disaster it was initially made out to be. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Blue Note Records

Grant Green recorded so much high-quality music for Blue Note during the first half of the '60s that a number of excellent sessions went unissued at the time. Even so, it's still hard to figure out why 1964's Matador was only released in Japan in 1979, prior to its U.S. CD reissue in 1990 -- it's a classic and easily one of Green's finest albums. In contrast to the soul-jazz and jazz-funk for which Green is chiefly remembered, Matador is a cool-toned, straight-ahead modal workout that features some of Green's most advanced improvisation, even more so than his sessions with Larry Young. Part of the reason for that is that Green is really pushed by his stellar backing unit: pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Elvin Jones. Not only is Green leading a group that features one-half of the classic Coltrane Quartet, but he even takes on Coltrane's groundbreaking arrangement of "My Favorite Things" -- and more than holds his own over ten-plus minutes. In fact, every track on the album is around that length; there are extended explorations of two Green originals ("Green Jeans" and the title track) and Duke Pearson's Middle Eastern-tinged "Bedouin," plus the bonus cut "Wives and Lovers," a swinging Bacharach pop tune not on the Japanese issue. The group interplay is consistently strong, but really the spotlight falls chiefly on Green, whose crystal-clear articulation flourishes in this setting. And, for all of Matador's advanced musicality, it ends up being surprisingly accessible. This sound may not be Green's claim to fame, but Matador remains one of his greatest achievements. ~ Steve Huey

Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | Blue Note Records

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Although Grant Green provided his share of groove-oriented soul-jazz and modal post-bop, his roots were hard bop, and it is in a bop-oriented setting that the guitarist excels on Born to Be Blue. Most of the material on this five-star album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio on December 11, 1961, when Green was joined by tenor titan Ike Quebec, pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes. Tragically, Quebec was near the end of his life -- the distinctive saxman died of lung cancer at the age of 44 on January 16, 1963 -- but there is no evidence of Quebec's declining health on Born to Be Blue. He was playing as authoritatively as ever well into 1962, and the saxman is in fine form on hard-swinging interpretations of "Someday My Prince Will Come" and Al Jolson's "Back in Your Own Back Yard." It's interesting to hear Quebec playing bop, for his big, breathy tone was right out of swing and was greatly influenced by Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. Although Quebec and Green (who was 14 years younger) had very different musical backgrounds, they were always quite compatible musically. They clearly enjoyed a strong rapport on the uptempo selections as well as ballads like "My One and Only Love" and Mel Torme's "Born to Be Blue." Originally a vinyl LP, this album was reissued on CD in 1989, when Blue Note added an alternate take of the title song and a previously unreleased version of Charlie Parker's "Cool Blues." ~ Alex Henderson
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Blue Note Records

Grant Green's debut album, Grant's First Stand, still ranks as one of his greatest pure soul-jazz outings, a set of killer grooves laid down by a hard-swinging organ trio. For having such a small lineup -- just organist Baby Face Willette and drummer Ben Dixon -- the group cooks up quite a bit of power, really sinking its teeth into the storming up-tempo numbers, and swinging loose and easy on the ballads. The influence of the blues on both Green and Willette is strong and, while that's far and away the dominant flavor of the session, Green also displays his unique bop phrasing (learned by studying horn players' lines, rather than other guitarists) to fine effect on his high-octane opener, "Miss Ann's Tempo," and Willette's "Baby's Minor Lope." Green's original blues "A Wee Bit O'Green" and "Blues for Willarene" are both memorable, particularly the former, and the two standards -- "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do" -- are given smoky treatments soaked in bluesy, late-night atmosphere. Willette and Dixon both supply a tremendous rhythmic drive, and Willette's solos burn with gospel fervor. This same trio performed together on Willette's Stop and Listen album, with equally heated results. None of Green's contemporaries used the single-note style (Green rarely played chords, leaving that to the organ or piano) to quite the same degree, making him a unique voice on his instrument. And his terrific debut pegged him as an up-and-comer to watch closely. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released May 21, 1971 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Grant Green's early-'70s recordings for Blue Note are continually attacked by jazz critics for being slick, overly commercial sessions that leaned closer to contemporary pop and R&B than hard bop or soul jazz. There's no denying that Green, like many of his Blue Note contemporaries, did choose a commercial path in the early '70s, but there were some virtues to these records, and Visions in particular. Often, these albums were distinguished by hot, funky workouts in the vein of Sly Stone or James Brown, but that's not the case here. On Visions, the guitarist crafted a set of appealingly melodic, lightly funky pop-jazz, concentrating on pop hits like "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," "Love On a Two Way Street," "We've Only Just Begun," and "Never Can Say Goodbye." Supported by minor-league players, Green nevertheless turns in an elegant and dignified performance -- after stating the melody on each song, he contributes typically graceful, memorable solos. Simply put, he sounds fresh, and his playing here is the best it has been since 1965's His Majesty, King Funk. Ultimately, Visions is a bit laid-back, and the electric piano-heavy arrangements are a little dated, but Grant Green never made a commercial pop-jazz album as appealing and satisfying as Visions. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

As a trio, this edition of guitarist Grant Green's many ensembles has to rank with the best he had ever fronted. Recorded on April Fool's Day of 1961, the band and music are no joke, as bassist Ben Tucker and drummer Dave Bailey understand in the most innate sense how to support Green, lay back when needed, or strut their own stuff when called upon. Still emerging as an individualist, Green takes further steps ahead, without a pianist, saxophonist, or -- most importantly -- an organist. His willpower drives this music forward in a refined approach that definitely marks him as a distinctive, immediately recognizable player. It is also a session done in a period when Green was reeling in popular demand, as this remarkably is one of six recordings he cut for Blue Note as a leader in 1961, not to mention other projects as a sideman. To say his star was rising would be an understatement. The lean meatiness of this group allows all three musicians to play with little hesitation, no wasted notes, and plenty of soul. Another aspect of this studio date is the stereo separation of Green's guitar in one speaker, perhaps not prevalent in modern recordings, but very much in use then. Check out the atypical (for Green) ballad "'Round About Midnight," as the guitarist trims back embellishments to play this famous melody straight, with a slight vibrato, occasional trills, and a shuffled bridge. The trio cops an attitude similar to Dizzy Gillespie for the introduction to "Alone Together," with clipped melody notes and a bass filler from Tucker. Three of Green's originals stamp his personal mark on rising original soulful post-bop sounds, as "No. 1 Green Street" has basic B-flat, easy-grooving tenets similar to his previously recorded tune "Miss Ann's Tempo." Two interesting key changes and chord accents identify the outstanding "Grant's Dimensions" beyond its core bop bridge and jam configuration -- not the least of which contains a hefty bass solo from the criminally underrated Tucker and Bailey trading fours. "Green with Envy" should be familiar to fans of Horace Silver, as it is almost identically based on the changes of "Nica's Dream," a neat adaptation full of stop-starts and stretched-out improvising over ten minutes. (The alternate take of this one on the expanded CD reissue is a full two minutes shorter.) If this is not a definitive jazz guitar trio, they have not yet been born, and Green Street stands as one of Grant Green's best recordings of many he produced in the ten prolific years he was with the Blue Note label. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Blue Note Records

Solid is a companion piece to the Grant Green classic Matador, recorded about a month later with the same rhythm section, and also not issued until 1979. Green is once again accompanied by the Coltrane supporting team of pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, plus bassist Bob Cranshaw; this time, however, Green is also joined on the front line by James Spaulding on alto sax and Joe Henderson on tenor. Both saxophonists really seem to light a fire under the proceedings, for in comparison with the relatively subdued Matador, Solid is a bright, hard-charging affair. There's a little modal jazz, but Solid's repertoire is chiefly complex hard bop, full of challenging twists and turns that the players burn through with enthusiasm. Green didn't tackle this kind of material -- or play with this kind of group -- very often, and it's a treat to hear him do so on both counts. The compositions -- highlighted by Duke Pearson's "Minor League," Henderson's "The Kicker," and a storming, ten-minute exploration of George Russell's "Ezz-Thetic" -- provoke some intricate improvisations from Green, and his perfectly controlled soloing is an interesting contrast with the passionate Spaulding and Henderson. Tyner and Jones are once again telepathic in their support, elevating the whole package to one of Green's strongest jazz outings and a unique standout in his catalog. [Oddity: the CD bonus track "Wives and Lovers" seems to be the same one included on Matador, where it was a better fit.] ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

In 1998, Blue Note released several CDs of previously unavailable (at least domestically) material from its prime years under the title of Standards. Some are not up to the level of the label's best output, but this outing is a definite exception. Guitarist Grant Green is heard in prime form in a sparse trio with bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Al Harewood. Six of the eight performances were previously available in Japan as an LP but never before in the U.S. Because Green rarely ever played chords, sticking to single-note lines, hearing him in this setting is similar to hearing a tenor in a pianoless trio. Highlights include "Love Walked In," "I'll Remember April," "All the Things You Are," and two versions of "If I Had You." Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow