Nick Green's latest release, Green On The Scene, is a captivating musical journey which combines masterful instrumentation, intricate compositions and a profound sense of improvisational exploration. Accompanied by trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, pianist Jeb Patton, bassist Mike Karn and the inestimable drummer Kenny Washington, the band embarks on a set list of compositions which are at the intersection of tradition and modernity.
The session opens with Charlie Parker's "Red Cross," a contrafact written over the lines of George and Ira Gershwin's standard "I Got Rhythm." The number's bop construct is ideal for the improvisations undertaken by the front line, with Green's alto saxophone exposition both intricate and accessible. The first of three Green originals is next up, entitled "Cheatin' ." This is a 12-bar blues with Patton's piano laying out the frame with the chart structured to provide lots of solo space for the band members to shine, showing broad curiosity and brisk composure. The following original number is "You-Kraine "(Song For Ukraine), another contrafact written over the harmony on Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody N' You." This upbeat and lively bop-influenced chart benefits from Washington's imaginative propulsion with Green, Magnarelli, and Patton unspooling exciting and open-flowing phrases.
Alto saxophonist Charles McPherson had a key influence on Green's music, and he acknowledges this by including two of his compositions on this release; "Horizons" and "A Tear and a Smile." Green's rich, warm tone in both these arrangements shows an emotional depth which is quite remarkable. There are also harmonic nuances and chord structures which entice this slick but substantial band into the freshness and ferocity of playing.
In terms of production values, the album boasts a clean and balanced sound, and the mix strikes a commendable balance between clarity and warmth. This should not be surprising as the session was recorded at the iconic Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ and engineered by Maureen Sickler. The closing track is "Barry," the final Nick Green original and a tribute to one of his teachers, pianist Barry Harris. In this swinging number, Green continues to deliver, and stretches his supple alto saxophone. Magnarelli and Patton are savvy technical players, with bassist Karn showing his muscular tone and alert style. This album is a triumph for Nick Green as a composer and performer.
Red Cross; Cheatin'; Horizons; A Handful of Stars; The Song Is You; All The Things You Are;'
You-Kraine (Song For Ukraine); A Tear and a Smile; Barry
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