Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Review: Grant Green - Easy

To say this is not Grant Green at his best would be a polite understatement. To say ‘Easy’ is perhaps a comment on Greens attitude to making this record would be nothing but entirely correct.

After a line of funkified jazz albums that had met with varying successes, Green again left Blue Note, his home for the most and best part of his career, and recorded for a number of different labels. Obviously aiming at a more commercial market the output was frequently less than stellar, and more often than not completely dire. This manages to fall into the latter camp. Hell, it practically owns it.

The seventies were often awash with jazz stars capitalising on the success and popularity of soul, rock and R&B, and Green himself had done very well mining this field with his ‘Caryin’ On’, ‘Visions’ and ‘Green Is Beautiful’ albums, not to mention a string of live albums. Here though Green is clearly not in charge, and the effect is obvious.

A huge band is the first problem, with Grant Green often at his best when working in small tight groups with every player able to crucially make their mark. Here instead we have a cast of thousands creating a distinctly unfunky funk gloop, with Green himself almost all but buried in the mix.

That’s not to say there aren’t great solos here. There are. And lots of them. You just won’t hear them unless you find some way of remixing the album yourself, such is the sheer number of instruments competing in their way. If you listen closely you can hear Green still close to his peak, playing with the technique and soul that you would expect. Why someone felt the need to suddenly add strings on top of him afterwards is a mystery only compounded further by the insult. Why bother having a star if he’s the one person you can’t hear?

‘Easy’ then is for the completist only. But even they’d be better off just ignoring it’s existence and accepting that Grant Green pretty much started and ended on Blue Note, with just a few small exceptioins. Remember him that way, not this.


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