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On "Naturally", Benny Green offers due respect to several homes that are important to him. No, not a structure. That would be a "house". No, not Berkeley, California, where he grew up. That would be too obvious. In several ways, Green pays tribute to his father's, Bert's, hometown of Pittsburgh. Now, one may not think of Pittsburgh as fertile territory for the development of jazz, at least not from the sometimes myopic view of a coastal metropolis. But Pittsburgh did bear Earl "Fatha" Hines and provided the childhood home of Mary Lou Williams. In addition, Green notes that Pittsburgh brought forth Stanley Turrentine and Horace Parlan, the inspiration behind the tune "Beg Your Parlan". But another of Green's unforgettable homes was that in the Jazz Messengers of Art Blakey, who hailed from Pittsburgh.
Green seems to feel at home at Telarc as well, which is releasing his first CD on that label. Having performed in duo with Oscar Peterson on the Telarc label, and having been a member of Ray Brown's trio, which recorded on Telarc, it was natural that Green would have gravitated to that label also.
The Benny Green Trio once again adopts characteristics of Oscar Peterson's and Nat King Cole's trios. In fact, on "Naturally", as on his last Blue Note release, "These Are Soulful Days", Green's trio consistently sets out to entertain with medium-tempo versions of his own compositions and seldom-played, but musically logical, gems like Carl Perkins' "Grooveyard" and Wayne Shorter's "Lester Left Town".
The camaraderie of the group is apparent, and they perform unpretentiously, confidently and melodically. Indeed, the feel among the three is so rewarding that Green wrote tunes characterizing the two other members of the group. "Captain Hook", referring to Green's nickname for the bassist, sets up McBride for a puckish variation on the theme in an arco style reminiscent of Major Holley. "Russelln'" combines piano and guitar in exposition of the melody as they then rhythmically and steadily back up the other in improvisation which highlights Malone's crystalline sound and relaxed approach.
Now that Benny Green has found a new home, he has fallen into a newer attitude of unhurried and enjoyable exploration consistent with Telarc's style and reputation for quality recording.
Love You Madly; Naturally; Pittsburgh Brethren; Captain Hook; Grooveyard; Learnin' The Blues; Russelln'; Beg Your Parlan; Lester Left Town
Benny Green, piano; Russell Malone, guitar; Christian McBride, bass
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.