Grant Green: Goin' West (2004)
Tempting as it is to dismiss this Grant Green album as the sixties' slant on lite jazz, overriding talent, as one would expect, has a tendency to compensate for a decided lack of risk taking, the very virtue, considering the quality of these players, that could have elevated Goin' West to a minor classic. Recorded in November of 1962 and shelved until 1969, possibly because of its brevity or the glut of Green releases on the market, Goin' West , if one wanted to labor the point, is actually a third of a cycle of would-be concept albums cut by the guitarist over an eight month period after Born To Be Blue and nearly a year prior to Idle Moments or, as they could be co-billed, the infallible Grant Green recordings as a leader. While The Latin Bit focused on samba styles and Feelin' the Spirit drew from the old Southern hymnals, Goin' West , though nominally a country and western recording, moves us into the realm of folk musicbluegrass folk music and clippity-clappity cowboy tunes not the stuff of the Bear Family Bonanza box set, mind, but not altogether dissimilar in spirit. Considering drummer Billy Higgins had played on Ornette Coleman's first Atlantic sessions, bassist Reggie Workman with John Coltrane, and pianist Herbie Hancock would soon become a part of Miles Davis' most adventurous and best band, the playing could not be more "in." Having said that, it would be hard to imagine Goin' West being a greater delight, a straight forward, unencumbered jazz delightfinesse jazz is a readily applicable moniker. As much as you may resent "On Top of Old Smokey" from your grammar school days, and its proliferate versions in all manner and mode of musical genre, the version here, with that killer, pulse to the fore sound of Rudy Van Gelder, has what could well make the shortlist of classic Grant Green solos, a brisk, bluesy, construction that unfurls economically and incisively with the manner and shape of a narrative, albeit one shot through with triplets. A masterpiece, noBilly Higgins may even be the real star of this recordbut Goin' West is an intriguing release nonethelessI often find it to be a daily favoriteand current day MOR fetishists may well have their minds blown.
Track Listing: 1. On Top of Old Smokey 2. I Can't Stop Loving You 3. Wagon Wheels 4. Red River Valley 5. Tumbling Tumbleweeks
Personnel: Grant Green (g), Herbie Hancock (p), Reggie Workman (b) Billy Higgins (d)