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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Capitol Records

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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, 1996 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | 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, 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
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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
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Jazz - Released May 10, 2005 | Blue Note Records

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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, 2005 | Blue Note Records

Broadening his musical palette, Grant Green detoured into a number of "theme" sessions in 1962 -- the light Latin jazz of The Latin Bit; the country & western standards of Goin' West; and the best of the bunch, the old-time gospel album Feelin' the Spirit. For Feelin' the Spirit, Green takes five traditional, public-domain African-American spirituals (plus the CD bonus track "Deep River") and gives them convincing jazz treatments in a quartet-plus-tambourine setting. Green's light touch and clear tone match very well with the reverent material, and pianist Herbie Hancock is tremendous in support, serving the needs of the music and nailing the bright gospel style perfectly. Similarly, Green's playing never gets too complicated or loses sight of the melodies, yet he never runs short of ideas -- which goes to show that Feelin' the Spirit is indeed a labor of love. Opening with a jaunty "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," Green and Hancock work up an impassioned gospel fervor on "Go Down Moses," which is loaded with soulful, bluesy tradeoffs. Yet overall, the mood is fairly reflective, with Green's interpretations of "Joshua Fit de Battle ob Jericho," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" pointing up the suffering and sorrow behind these standards -- with the implication that suffering still continued into 1962. That's not to say Feelin' the Spirit is a depressing album, though; it's simply infused with the spirit of the blues, which is part of the reason these songs translate so surprisingly well despite their harmonic simplicity. Green, Hancock, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins keep the grooves flowing throughout, making Feelin' the Spirit a rousingly successful experiment. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Blue Note Records

Grant Green's fourth album, Sunday Mornin', was the first time Green recorded (as a leader) with a piano instead of an organ. Joined by pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Ben Dixon, Green makes Sunday Mornin' less of a soul-jazz session than his previous work, instead turning in a solid -- if not quite exceptional -- set of modal hard bop and laid-back grooves. Pianist Drew's sparse chording leaves plenty of room for Green's lilting tones to ring out, and since Green's approach relies on single-note lines rather than chords, the whole session ends up with a spacious, light feel. Half of the original six tracks are Green originals, including the Martin Luther King-inspired "Freedom March" and the gospel-tinged title track; the others are well-known repertory: "God Bless the Child," Miles Davis' "So What," and Eddie Harris' then-recent hit adaptation of the theme from "Exodus." Green is tasteful and elegant as always, and the results make for an enjoyable addition to his discography, even if there are more distinctive Green albums available. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

Ballads captures Grant Green in a mellow mood, offering something like a portrait of an artist as a young guitarist. All seven selections are from 1960 and 1961, mostly, as the liner notes state, because Green performed ballads less often as time went on (especially as a leader). It's instructive and gratifying, then, to have pieces like "My One and Only Love" and "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" in one place. The personnel varies quite a bit since each cut originates from a different album, though pianist Sonny Clark plays on four cuts, including the lovely "Little Girl Blue." Flutist Yusef Lateef, organist Jack McDuff, and drummer Al Harewood join in for a delicate, impressionistic rendering of "My Funny Valentine," while bassist Ben Tucker and drummer Dave Bailey add minimalist support to a moody version of "'Round Midnight." On each tune, four of which exceed seven minutes, Green takes his time developing his ideas. He can dazzle, but he'd rather hold a note or allow a phrase to linger in the air for a moment. He'd rather wring a few more blue notes out of "God Bless the Child" than impress the listener with his speed and agility. For those unfamiliar with Green's softer side, Ballads offers a fine introduction. For those in the know, Ballads conveniently collects these pieces in the same place, creating an exquisite late-night disc. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Grant Green, being known mainly as a soul jazz guitarist, eventually gravitated into the popular boogaloo sound. The Latin Bit is the natural bridge to that next phase, though a bit premature for most in 1961-1963, even relative to the subsequent bossa nova craze. Pianist Johnny Acea, long an underrated jazzman, is the nucleus of this session, grounding it with witty chops, chordal comping, and rhythmic meat. The Latino rhythm section of drummer Willie Bobo and conga player Carlos "Patato" Valdes personify authentic, seasoned spice, while at times the chekere sound of Garvin Masseaux makes the soup too thick. At its collective best, the group presents a steady, serene, and steamy "Besame Mucho" and the patient, slow, slinky, sultry "Tico Tico." Just a small step below is a classy take on Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes," a premier jazz bebop (emphasis) tune with a Latin undertow and Green's tiniest staccato phrases, slightly marred by the overbearing constant chekere, but still classic. "Mama Inez" ranks high for its calypso-infused happy feeling and wry stop-start lines. The straight-ahead hard bopper "Brazil" and lone soul-jazz tune, "Blues for Juanita," display the single-note acumen that made Green's style instantly recognizable. This date always yielded mixed results for staunch fans of Green, but it remains a credible effort, even if slightly flawed in part. [Some reissues add two selections with pianist Sonny Clark and tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec, the latter of whom plays hip secondary harmonies on the bossa nova-flavored "Granada," but is in the complete background and a non-factor on the pop tune "Hey There."] ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records

Live at Club Mozambique was, according to Bob Belden's liner notes, rumored to exist for decades in Blue Note's Grant Green discography, but was never released. His explanation as to why is satisfactory -- Green's star had waned considerably -- and makes some sense, but the label had 15 unissued albums by the guitarist by 1971. This date recorded at the famed Detroit jazz club (Green was living in the city at the time) is the second such set of grooves to be issued from the club floor -- Lonnie Smith's was the first. The band consists of Idris Muhammad, Ronnie Foster, Houston Person, and the all but unknown Clarence Thomas, and the two tenor saxophonists (Thomas also played soprano here) laid out heavy, deep funk on the tunes that were chosen. Foster and Muhammad were symbiotic as a rhythm section. Foster's grooving under-the-cover basslines matched the soul groove style of Muhammad. They locked onto Green and couldn't be shaken loose. Obviously created for an inner-city audience and the jukebox crowd, this set was recorded a scant five months after Alive!, but bites a lot harder. The tunes include a simmering read of the Clarence Carter vehicle "Patches" with Green stretching the melody to the breaking point, and the horn section fills egg him on. "One More Chance" was written by the Corporation (the Mizell Brothers) and recorded by the Jackson 5. It's got that soulful ballad sweetness just over the top of some sparkling chops -- Thomas' soprano here is a perfect foil to both Green and Person. Green's reliance on those low strings for his melody is special; it's meaty and stays in the pocket, allowing for more ensemble interplay -- though his solo is a thing to behold, all knotty yet still full of warmth and vigor. When he starts twinning with Foster near its end, the joy just bleeds from the speakers. The read of "Walk on By" is soulful without being overly ornate. Thomas' "Farid" and the opener, "Jan Jan," written by M. Davis (not Miles), are for the hard jazz fans here. The horn charts are tight and elaborate in their fashion, and Green pulls out the stops layering blues, jazz, and soulful funkiness into each of his lines. And to hear this rhythm section simmer and pop is glorious. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

On the heels of Matador and Solid, two of his most advanced albums, Grant Green decided to continue the more modal direction he'd begun pursuing with the help of members of Coltrane's quartet. Accordingly, he hooked up with organist Larry Young, who was just beginning to come into his own as the first Hammond B-3 player to incorporate Coltrane's modal innovations into his own style. Talkin' About is the first of three albums the Green/Young team recorded together with Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, and it's exceptional, one of the most underrated items in Green's discography. With just a basic organ trio lineup, the album works a fascinating middle ground between the soul-jazz of Green's early days and the modal flavor of his most recent work. Though Young's style wasn't quite fully formed yet, he's no longer the in-the-pocket Jimmy Smith disciple of his earliest sessions; his playing here is far more adventurous than the typical soul-jazz date, both harmonically and rhythmically. Jones and Young often play off one another to create an intricate, percolating pulse that's miles ahead of the standard soul-jazz groove. The trio's interplay is best showcased on Young's Coltrane tribute, "Talkin' About J.C.," a monster jam that's worth every one of its nearly 12 minutes, and the cheerful "I'm an Old Cowhand," popularized as a jazz tune by Sonny Rollins. Meanwhile, Young and Green positively shimmer together on the ballad numbers, "People" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." It all makes for a terrific album that ranks in Green's uppermost echelon. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Blue Note Records

First Session is just that: the first material Grant Green recorded as a leader for Blue Note in 1960. While the results were certainly good, the label chose to shelf the recordings. Producer Alfred Lion may have had some misgivings about the results, but it is doubtful that Green's fans or jazz guitar fans will have any such qualms. Pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones join him on the first five cuts. They start with the spunky "He's a Real Gone Guy," but really hit their groove with the 11-minute original "Seepin'." Green's guitar is shot through with the blues on this slow burner, while Chambers' bass perfectly captures the late-night mood of this piece. Green seems unsure of his footing at the beginning of Sonny Rollins "Sonnymoon for Two," but quickly regains his balance and swings hard. Kelly's light, bluesy touch offers the perfect match for the artist's guitar; his lovely fills offer the perfect backdrop, while his solos are always distinctive. The last two tracks are multiple versions of "Woody 'N' You" with pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. While these tracks are not technically the first sessions, they do give the listener a chance to hear Green and Clark work together. Whatever hesitation Green may have felt as a first time leader, the warmth and immediacy of his style arrives in full bloom. First Session is a lively portrait of a jazz great, surrounded by the best musicians in the business, getting his feet wet. Don't miss it. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

A Blue Note album finally reissued on CD in early 2004, Grant Green's Goin' West -- like Feelin' the Spirit -- includes Herbie Hancock on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums. Includes tunes like (can you believe?) "On Top of Old Smokey" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." Only Green could carry this off, but he is the man when it comes to standards. ~ Michael Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Blue Note Records