Monday, August 25, 2008

Grant Green - Blues For Lou (Blue Note, 1999)

Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson was guitarist Green's champion, bringing him out of the Midwest chitin circuit and on to the New York City jazz scene where he recorded prolifically for Blue Note. Green recorded so often that this album honoring his debt to Donaldson actually lay in the vaults for several decades before finally seeing the light of day. It's a fine album, with organist Big John Patton and drummer Ben Dixon fitting together with Green very well. There are some very nice up-tempo performances on this album, with "Surrey With the Fringe On Top", "Big John" and "Look at That Girl" have Patton keeping the organ and bass pedals at full simmer and Green's swift, bluesy guitar grooving strong. One of the devices he liked to use was to repeat a series of notes until the tension is unbearable, and then let loose with a flurry of improvised notes like a dam bursting with ideas. Also interesting on this album, although not quite as successful as the cookers are a couple of pop flavored performances that seem to foreshadow the R&B flavored jazz that Green would follow in the 1970's. "That Little Girl Of Mine" and "Personality" don't offer the possibilities for improvisation the others so, but the do demonstrate Green way with melodies. This is a good solid album, which shouldn't come as a surprise, since Green made many such records during this very fruitful period.

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