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Grant Green: Live At Club Mozambique

Chris May By

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A previously unreleased live session, Live At Club Mozambique captures Grant Green at the start of his final, groove-driven decade.

By this time, fame and dope had taken a heavy toll on the guitarist, who'd downsized to Detroit, where Club Mozambique hosted one of his regular gigs. Blue Note, now without Alfred Lion, pulled out several stops for this recording. Producer Francis Wolff flew in from New York, as did tenor saxophone soul star Houston Person and groove-centric drummer Idris Muhammad. Clarence Thomas (saxophones) and Ronnie Foster (organ) were members of Green's regular band at the Mozambique, where the performances on January 6 and 7, 1971 were recorded.

The music is simple and straightforward, equal parts jazz and funk. The set list is dominated by covers of contemporary black urban radio hits—Clarence Carter's "Patches," Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" and the Jackson 5's "One More Chance" were all charting at the time. Green was playing for his regular Mozambique audience, which was there for an uncomplicated good time. There's only one original on the record, Thomas' "Farid."

On these relatively unambitious terms, the music works well. It's astonishingly simple—"Bottom Of The Barrel," for instance, is a jam played on one chord, and lasts nine and half minutes—but it's played with commitment and taste. Houston Person, who takes most of the saxophone solos, is a wailing pleasure, blowing hot soul-jazz on "Jan Jan" and "Bottom Of The Barrel," cool seduction on "Walk On By." Foster and Muhammad seem to have bonded on sight, and they keep the backbeat fat. When he has a chance to shine, as on "Farid," Thomas' Coltrane-influenced tenor makes for a nice contrast to Person.

Green plays immaculately, if not adventurously, throughout. His tone is clean, his phrasing is masterful, and his lines cook. He could do this stuff in his sleep—but he didn't. He plays like he means it, and from time to time he touches the spirit. So long as you're not expecting the intricate rhapsodies of his 1963 magnum opus, Idle Moments, you'll enjoy the ride.

Track Listing: Jan Jan; Farid; Bottom Of The Barrel; Walk On By; More Today Than Yesterday; One More Chance; Patches; I Am Somebody.

Personnel: Clarence Thomas: soprano and tenor saxophone; Houston Person: tenor saxophone; Grant Green: guitar; Ronnie Foster; organ; Idris Muhammad: drums.

Title: Live At Club Mozambique | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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