Benny Green Trio: Source (2011)
Benny Green, now 48, is entering his middle years. Early on he was hailed as a budding master; today he has fully blossomed into one of the jazz world's finest pianists. Equally comfortable with a fast-paced piece and or a sensitive ballad, he is a go-to guy for sessions as back-up or leader. His last recordings were as a co-leader, in duo with guitarist Russell Malone, hailed for the exquisite interplay of Jazz at The Bistro (2003) and Bluebird (2004), both on Telarc.
On Source, his first recording with a trio in 10 years, he has the peerless accompaniment of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington (not related but attached rhythmically at the hip). While in Japan, recently, Green and the Washingtons played trio dates, which emphasized their simpatico sound.
The song list honors compositions by pianists Green admires, including Bud Powell, Sonny Clark, Carl Perkins, Kenny Drew, Duke Pearson and Horace Silver. "These musicians are my heroes... the source," Green says. The selections display his many-sided talent.
For up-tempo sides, there are Perkins' boppish and jaunty "Way Cross Town"; the dazzling swirling piano runs of Donald Byrd's "Little T"; and the furious pace running through Powell's bop anthem, "Tempus Fugit." Then there is a soulful, groovy rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "I Waited For You," with subtle backing that brings to mind the interplay of pianist Bill Evans' trios. The majestic, reflective mood created for Benny Golson's "Park Avenue Petite" further demonstrates Green's range.
Also of note is the astute decision to include Mel Tormé's moody ballad, "Born to Be Blue," with its palpably nourish, after-hours feel, as well as Green's complex arrangement of Drew's "Cool Green," which admirably shows off both Washingtons.
Kenny Washington's often furious, at times subtle drumming drives all the set, supported by Peter Washington's always inventive bass work. Source suggests that Green should not wait another 10 years before recording another trio session.
Track Listing: Blue Minor; Way 'Cross Town; I Waited For You; Liitle T; Cool Green; Tempus Fugit; Park Avenue Petite; Chant; Born to be Blue; Opus de funk
Personnel: Benny Green: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Kenny Washington: drums.