Friday, July 23, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

Grant Green (reissue)

Blue Note/Music Matters MMBST 84442 2 45rpm 180g LPs

Produced by: Alfred Lion
Engineered by: Rudy Van Gelder
Mixed by: Tony Sestanovich
Mastered by: Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman at AcousTech
Produced for Release by: Michael Cuscuna

Review by: Michael Fremer

With the rhythm section of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Sonny Rollins’ bassist of choice Bob Cranshaw behind him, the long underappreciated Grant Green’s take on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” superficially sounds like a transcript lifted from Coltrane’s 1961 Atlantic album of the same name from a few years earlier.
It’s even taken in the same 6/8 time. But listen more carefully and behind the similarities comes guitarist Grant Green’s very different take on the tune’s melodic thrust. Tyner follows Grant’s lead and the result is an adrenaline rush of precisely struck, ultra-clarified notes.

Unlike Coltrane, who takes off into uncharted territory before returning to the tune (that was the first jazz album I ever bought as a kid and that long solo always made me feel like I was walking a tightrope until the group got back to the melody), Green manages an elegant solo that doesn’t wander too far both melodically and rhythmically while sustaining and building the song’s joyful emotional backdrop.

You can listen to Elvin and McCoy alone and get sufficient pleasure from this album. Both adapt different, you could say more sunny personas to accompany Green compared to how they sound with Coltrane. If you love Wes and don’t know Mr. Green, this record will knock you down from Green’s first solo on the title tune, which he penned. There are but four extended tunes on this 1964 recording that strangely stayed in the can until a 1979 Japanese release. An American CD first appeared in 1990.

The sound here, remixed from the original Van Gelder recording is remarkably good and sounds more modern in the best sense of that word than some other albums of the time. It sounds nothing like a “typical” Blue Note, being drier, more detailed and punchier than usual. Being able to hear Green pick notes from an intimate perspective adds to the pleasure. The piano and drums too are very well recorded. An easy album to recommend.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by Permission

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