Soul Jazz is cheating. The recipe is tried and true: slick guitar, funky Rhodes and Hammond Organ, tight Drums and Bass, a full horn section. Music like this sounds good and makes folks happy with ease. It is also relatively formulaic.
Such is the scenario for guitarist Grant Green, Jr.’s new album, Introducing G.G.. The selections are soulful, the arrangements tight, the production clean. The rhythms get feet tapping, heads bobbing, and smiles around the room. But, as is often the case with Soul Jazz, the performance is unoriginal.
This is not to take anything away from Mr. Green and his guitar. Clearly he knows his way around the fret board and can trade licks with the best of them. Introducing G.G. opens with a horn-heavy funky rendition of “Cantaloupe Woman” and a rollicking guitar solo in the first chorus. “Selma March” “Another Time Another Place” and “Can You Feel It” are similarly funky. Jazz funksters will no doubt get down and boogey with these selections on the hi-fi. Aficionados will leave unaffected, harking back to the days of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, and the original Grant Green. Make not mistake, this record is fun, but suffers a little from the “been there done that” syndrome.
The album is not entirely funk. “People Make The World Go Around” is a mellower number, straddling the line between soul and smooth ever so carefully. “For The Love Of You” is a ballad silks straight over the soul line and dives into smooth, but tastefully, with just a hint of kitsch.
Indeed, the album has its moments. But as tasty as the groove is on Introducing G.G. is, there is an abundance of groove music that funks harder and grooves smoother. A recommendation for only the most die hard Soul Jazz fans.
Personnel: Grant Green Jr. - Guitar; Cafe - Percussion; Leo Gandelman - Saxophone; Reuben Wilson - Hammond B3 Organ; Andrew Sherman - Hammond B3 Organ & Rhodes; Gintas Janusonis - Drums; Booker King - Acoustic & Electric Bass; Albert Menendez - Rhodes; Richard Lee Wendel - Trumpet