Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55626

Grant Green (guitar); Wilbur Ware (bass); Al Harewood (drums)

Recorded 29 August 1961

One of the sad stories of jazz Green was dead by 43. An admirer of Charlie Parker, Green played the guitar in a minimal way avoiding the clutter of chords. Like Parker he never strays far from blues inflected playing. It is a pity that he recorded so much with organ players. The purity of his sound and the clarity of his lines are obscured. In a way this pianoless session with Ware and Harewood fits with his playing. Green enjoys the freedom of the sparse backgrounds and takes off on all the pieces, mainly standards.

This is a relaxed session, no histrionics. If there is a criticism the album is a little one paced. However, the listener gets a chance to appreciate the lucidity and invention of Grant’s lines and to realise that the apparent simplicity is not what it seems. This is about improvisation in its purest sense, the no place to hide sense, the ‘I am not going to blast you with volume or flashy technique sense’. Beautiful standards where you can follow the line of thought, appreciate the nuances of interpretation and admire the structure.

The two Woody’N’You tracks are extras from a session with pianist Sonny Clark. Apparently this was the only time that the guitarist recorded the Dizzy Gillespie piece.

The music is very well packaged and there are two informative essays.

If I could only have one album by Grant Green this would be it. It has the essence. If you don’t know the work of Grant Green what a good place to start.