183

Grant Green: Iron City

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
For guitarist Grant Green (1931-79), the years between 1965 and 1969 were lost in a battle with drugs. His graceful, easily identifiable single note phrases had caught many listeners' attention with a wide variety of excellent Blue Note dates between 1960 and 1965. Seemingly able to master any style, he never once diminished the force or appeal of his own personality. Leaving Blue Note, he recorded two albums for Verve in 1965 (one remains unreleased), then wasn't heard from again until 1969. But somewhere in 1967, he teamed with former Lou Donaldson rhythm-mates John Patton (organ) and Ben Dixon (drums) and recorded, Iron City, his best ever organ-trio record.

Presumably recorded for then-thriving Prestige Records, Iron City was first issued in 1972 on Cobblestone Records and again in 1978 on Muse. Now that 32Jazz has introduced it on CD, a new generation of jazz listeners can hear how forceful the guitarist could be in the right funk. Freed from the constraints of well-rehearsed Blue Note staidness, Green and company let loose here in a rip-roaring, mostly up-tempo program of solid winners.

Green's own "Iron City" is one of his catchiest funk pieces and Patton and Dixon are down, deep in the groove. This trio even swings Luis Bonfa's sticky-sweet, overplayed "Samba de Orfeu" so hard its titled "Samba de Orpheus." "Old Man Moses," (which Green first covered in 1962 on the excellent Feelin' the Spirit ), is the disc's centerpiece. Stating the theme, the trio works itself into "A Love Supreme" groove and responds with praiseworthy playing that shows how well good heads can work the feet.

Patton is especially muscular and memorable here and, overall, pulls off one the best performances of his career (acid-jazzers could find plenty of meaty samples here too). "High Heeled Sneakers" and "Work Song" are the standard soul-jazz warhorses - but each gets thorough, no-holds-barred workouts from Green and crew. The moody blue of "Motherless Child" (another return to Feelin' the Spirit ) is also sensitively - and intuitively - handled by the trio, but in a way that does not compromise toward sentimentality.

The disc's sound is pristine and really brings out Patton's pedalwork and Dixon's subtle technique more than the old records did. Iron City is, if not Green's best organ-trio record, surely his last "great" recorded performance. After returning to active recording in 1969, he resorted to mostly mindless vamps, rehashed pet licks and, too often, the company of associates and material well beneath his talent. Iron City suggests that only the best was to still to come.

Tracks:Iron City; Samba de Orpheus; Old Man Moses (Let My People Go); High Heeled Sneakers; Motherless Child; Work Song.

Personnel: Grant Green: guitar; Big John Patton: organ; Ben Dixon: drums.

| Record Label: 32 Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
by Doug Collette
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "Left" CD/LP/Track Review Left
by John Sharpe
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Rub Out The Word" CD/LP/Track Review Rub Out The Word
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Metal Na Madeira" CD/LP/Track Review Metal Na Madeira
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Moments in Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moments in Time
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 7, 2016
Read "Say So" CD/LP/Track Review Say So
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!