Sunday, February 15, 2009

Grant Green - Solid (Blue Note, 1964)

Guitarist Grant Green recorded many great sessions for the Blue Note label during the early and mid 1960's. While primarily known as a groove and blues player, he could more than hold his own in a progressive setting as well. This is one of Green's finest achievements as a bandleader, but ironically, Blue Note kept it in the vaults until 1979 while they were promoting his more accessible work. Leading a cracking ensemble consisting of Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, James Spualding on alto saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass and Elvin Jones on drums, the group tackles some complex music with a high degree of intelligence. The disc opens with a Duke Pearson composition called "Minor League" which is strong swinging modern jazz with taught saxophone. Green solos well, strong biting guitar swinging over strong cymbal time, and then deep stentorian tenor from Joe Henderson. "Ezz-Thetic" by George Russell has urgent fast playing where Green is very strong prodding sharp shards of notes, followed by Tyner's piano comps hard under a snaking alto solo, strong deep tenor interlude and rapid and deep piano and drum solos. Green's own "Grant's Tune" is back on more Earthy ground with a mid tempo swaying feel, groove solo on guitar and a tenor solo that has a lighter tone. Sonny Rollins composition "Solid" features upbeat swinging melody, thoughtful bright sounding guitar and solid back to back saxophone solos. The Bert Bacharach song "Wives and Lovers" wraps things up with an addictive swinging opening making way for tenor to take flight, followed by a great whinnying alto solo, attractive Green solo, and a fine swinging conclusion. In a year that saw great modern jazz statements by the likes of John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, Grant Green proved that he was more than just a one dimensional groove musician, and that he was capable of rising to the challenge of complex modern jazz on this excellent recording.
Solid -

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