Grant Green’s ‘Am I Blue?’ is one of the least issued and sometimes harder to find of his many prolific recordings, which ultimately is just as well, as sadly despite occurring in his prime period it’s also one of his least interesting. In theory and on paper it certainly has everything to be a good grouping; the winning organ trio of Green, Big John Patton and Ben Dixon (always excellent together) with the excellent Joe Henderson on tenor sax, and Johnny Coles on the trumpet. In practice though, it’s sorely missing what made most of Greens work frequently excellent.
Everyone here plays well, but the material – all covers - is weak and mostly below par. For the most part mid and slow tempo, the mood is laid-back but often sleepy and, just occasionally, dull. Interaction between the members is weak too, almost as though everyone was tired and playing at the end of a rough session and sounding not at all like they were even in the studio at the same time. On the plus side,
supplies some fine
grit and fire throughout, and Green shows some trademark good licks, while at
the other end Coles and his trumpet seem mostly misplaced and superfluous. Henderson
‘Am I Blue?’ is certainly listenable, and even a below-average Green album is still well worth hearing. Best of all, it marks the end of the run of ‘themed-concept’ albums that he had been required to record, having gone through varying levels of success with gospel, country, spiritual, latin and now blues. This is not a bad album; rather it is a lesser effort from a usually sublime artist. After this he would go on to his undisputable career high-point, recording a cracking run of sublime albums that anybody should own before this one; ‘Idle Moments’, ‘Matador’, ‘Solid’, ‘Talkin’ About’ and ‘Street Of Dreams’. Compared to those masterworks, this doesn’t match-up by quite some way, and it certainly pales against his first works for Blue Note before the themes crept in, but if you need your Green fix this is alright. Mostly this is a distinctly average effort from a premier musician.