Grant Green: Sunday Mornin' (2005)
There are a lot of Grant Green records on the market these days, entirely too much for those of us who think of him as one of the more erratic talents in the distinguished Blue Note catalog. But Sunday Mornin', coming immediately after the recent release of three funk-themed Green compilations of questionable value, is a gem, arguably the finest album of his career.
Green had the misfortune of being saddled by his record company with painfully stupid concept albums that may have contributed to his depression and drug abuse. Imagine if Impulse Records had asked Archie Shepp to do a country and western collection or a cliche-laden gospel set? Green suffered these indignities and more. Sunday Mornin' suggests just how consistently great he would have been if Blue Note had permitted him to do no-nonsense, mainstream jazz sessions.
The high points include a towering "God Bless the Child," where every note Green carefully chooses sings and sobs simultaneously. Equally remarkable is a sharply executed cover of Miles Davis' "So What," with the deeply inventive rhythm section of pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Ben Dixon taking economic but dramatically memorable solo spots.
The original tunes by Green are perhaps a notch lower in intensity, but they are highly engaging in their own modest way. "Freedom March" is a kind of strutting march which probably references the Civil Rights march common to the time it was originally recorded (1961). The "bonus" track on this remastereed reissue, "Tracin' Tracey," sounds like a Horace Silver composition, but Green and Silver often sounded like brothers. There's not a bad tune on this peerless set, and whatever your feelings about Green's place in jazz history, it's highly recommended.
Track Listing: Freedom March, Sunday Morning, Exodus, God Bless the Child, Come Sunrise, So What, Tracin' Tracey (bonus track).
Personnel: Grant Green: piano; Kenny Drew: piano; Ben Tucker: bass; BenDixon: drums.