Sunday, 17 February 2013

Review: Grant Green - Street Of Dreams

A huge Grant Green fan, I have pretty much written reviews for everything he ever recorded (so much, and yet so little). My struggle now is to stagger these so this doesn't become the Grant Green Blog. At some point I'll post some of his less favourable albums, but in the meantime here is the 'companion' recording to his masterpiece 'Idle Moments' - 'Street Of Dreams'.

Sometimes referred to, quite rightly, as the godfather of acid jazz, Grant Green is surely now one of the most sampled guitarists of all-time. Whereas his earlier material and records took on a cool slant on jazz, his work from the late 60’s till his death in the late 70’s became increasingly funk driven, often built around extended and, crucially, infectious  jams.

His legacy has tended to be vastly overshadowed by Wes Montgomery, who in truth was a more rounded and polished player, but his albums with Blue Note, especially those from the early part of his career have endured incredibly well, of which ‘Street Of Dream’ is definitely in the list of top picks.

‘Idle Moments’ is arguably his finest effort, and ‘Street Of Dreams’, though not as strong, breathes that same late-night atmosphere, also boasting a welcome reunion with vibes-man Bobby Hutcherson. A line-up featuring no bass or horns in any form, the group is completed courtesy of organ player Larry Young and, borrowed from John Coltrane’s quartet, Elvin Jones on drums.

Four tunes make up the album, including the much covered, usually as a vocal number, ‘Lazy Afternoon’. Structurally different to its normal performance, Green makes it the best tune here. Throughout, his guitar is so fluid and smooth; he makes it sound effortless and dreamlike. By listening here you can clearly see the influence he paved for future guitarists, notably George Benson, and to a lesser extent Nigel Price.

What really makes the album cook though is Young’s organ playing. Indispensable  he plays with a soulful and gentle touch that many others could never reach. Jones makes some some strong poly-rhythmic work, which when combined with Hutchersons subtle vibes work, works to create a nice richly-textured background.

The title track alone needs to be heard, and is one of Green’s best covers, but also very worthy of note is the ‘Naked City’ TV series theme ‘Somewhere In The Night’, which after the version played here would go on to be picked up by many more jazz players.

A mellow groove permeates the whole of ‘Street Of Dreams’ with some slick and astounding lines from all three soloists. A great Green recording, and clearly one of his best, it’s one of the most soulful jazz albums to ever be released and should be in any guitar jazzers collection.


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