Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: Grant Green - Solid

Grant Green recorded a truly vast number of sessions for Blue Note in the early ‘60s. So many in fact, that a good number, both as leader and as a highly-regarded sideman, were left in the vaults for many years, and not released until after his young death in ’79, and his later rediscovery by the acid-jazz crowd in the early-90s.

Of those left in the can, most in fact rank alongside his finest works, such as his two sessions recorded with the rhythm section of McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw and Elvin Jones, which made the excellent ‘Matador’ and, with the additions of Joe Henderson and James Spaulding, would go on to make ‘Solid’.

‘Solid’ is perhaps the hardest sounding recording Green has ever made, not that the set itself ever becomes hard - all the players here have recorded much harder-edged material with other bandleaders. Strong material choices come from a wide range of sources, taking in the jazz world (Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Duke Pearson), pop (Burt Bacharach) and Greens own always strong compositions.

‘Minor League’ sets up an upbeat opening that swings and gives us some great solos from Green and his largest ever horn section, while ‘Ess-Thetic’ will come as a strong surprise to any who would erroneously claim he possessed lesser technical skills than that of Wes Montgomery or George Benson. Elvin Jones too makes a great bid for his spotlight moment with some highly notable drumming.

The title-track and Greens own ‘Grant’s Tune’ are more blues-based, with a laid back yet good time feel, while Henderson’s frequently covered ‘The Kicker’ gets a slower paced cover than is usual, and invites favourable comparison with both Bobby Hutchersons and Horace Silvers takes on the same number. Oddly, on most re-issues of the album, Bacharach’s ‘Wives And Lovers’ is tacked on the end. It’s the exact same version that’s also on Green’s earlier ‘Matador’ sessions, and while it does sit better there, it still feels very badly out of place and tacked-on on both recordings.

‘Idle Moments’ and ‘Street Of Dreams’ come as the more well-known ‘cool’ recordings from Green, with many others coming highly recommended, such as ‘Grants First Stand’ or ‘Sunday Mornin’’. ‘Solid’ however in its different groove is a good set of harder-bopping blues-jazz, and is strongly advised for anyone who is interested in hearing Grant with a harder edge.


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