Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Grant Green - Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes 1969-1970 (Resonance, 2018)

This is the second in a pair of fascinating recordings featuring the great guitarist Grant Green, and this is one reissue that really shows how he evolved from a mainstream jazz musician to a jazz funk performer. But it also makes clear that that all of these elements were present in the his musical makeup for the entirety of his career, and it isn't really fair to separate his career into "before" and "after." This collection consists of two sessions, beginning with a concert from French Radio in October of 1969 with Larry Ridley on bass and Don Lamond on drums, and they come together for an excellent set of more traditional bop based jazz. But he does show the direction that he is leaning with the opening track by James Brown, "I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I'll Get It Myself)" which tempers the funk with acoustic bass and subtle drumming, but also allows Green to commit to a strong short solo that melds elements of rhythm and blues to modern mainstream jazz. Green has always enjoyed performing the music of saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and his displays it he on this session, playing excellent versions of "Oleo" and "Sonnymoon For Two" which are bright and propulsive performances that make the most use of strong rhythm section playing, and encourages and allows Green to to take inventive solos that use his talent of repetition and release to build momentum and take that music to a higher level. It's interesting that he includes the ballad "How Insensitive (Insensatez)" here, since it would also be performed in a vastly longer version on the Slick - Live at Oil Can Harry's album recorded in 1975 and released in tandem with this one. Where as that version mined a groove for all it is worth, this is a more subtle and boss-nova ballad where Green sticks closely to the lovely melody, and allows the bass and drums to quietly state their case. The second half of this collection is a selection of live recordings from Antibes Jazz Festival on July 18 and 20, 1970. On this disc, he is accompanied by Billy Wilson on drums and Clarence Palmer on organ. This is a really fascinating set of performances, all four of which are very long, including two versions of the Green composition "Upshot" and allowing the band to really dig deep into the melody, carving it into a deep groove that carries the music along. These version last eighteen and nearly twenty minutes apiece and allow the drums and bass pedals of the organ to carry the balance of the foundation while Green solos at length over the course of the music, maintaining his jazzy approach while allowing the music to percolate nicely. They are totally in the funk bag on the rhythm and blues standard "Hi-Heel Sneakers" with rolling waves of organ and crafty drumming. They set into a groove and a feel and carry that for over twenty-seven minutes, and it is an impressive performance that shows that this trio can play accessible music, but also challenge themselves in the process. Overall, this was a very impressive release and hopefully Resonance can follow up on their recent dives into the French Radio archives with more gems like this one. Funk In France: From Paris to Antibes 1969-1970 -  amazon.com

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