Home » Jazz News » Recording


Benny Green's New Album, 'Solo'


Sign in to view read count
What sets Benny Green apart from many jazz pianists today is that he plays with his heart. By this, I don't mean soul. Most jazz pianists play with soul. It comes with the territory. With Benny, you can hear his emotions through his fingers. There's crying in there, bliss, melancholy, elation and wistfulness. On his new album, Solo (Sunnyside), we hear the entire range on 11 smartly chosen songs.

Benny's gift is the product of an early start and seasoning acquired from multiple recording dates and tours with jazz legends and a special friendship with Oscar Peterson, with whom he collaborated on a duet album in 1998. The legends include Art Blakey, Ray Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, Clark Terry, Milt Jackson and Arnett Cobb. He came up studying classical in Berkeley, Ca., and by high school had a weekly gig at Yoshi's. The secrets of the music's feel were then passed on to him. 

On Solo, recorded in Oakland, Ca., in 2022, Benny takes on terrific jazz compositions, many of which are off the beaten trail. The album features James Williams' Soulful Mr. Timmons, Cedar Walton's The Maestro, Horace Silver's Lonely Woman, Bobby Timmons's This Here, Thelonious Monk's Ruby, My Dear, Tommy Flanagan's Minor Mishap, McCoy Tyner's Sunset, Barry Harris's Rouge and Oscar Peterson's He Has Gone. Benny also includes two originals—Jackie McLean and Blue Drew, which Benny said yesterday was inspired by “Kenny Drew Sr.’s right-hand double stops, as on Blue Train, which also is a blues in the key of E-flat. But it probably doesn’t sound so much like him because of the left hand stride setting as contrasted with Paul Chambers and Philly Joe’s long quarter notes; such a different backdrop to the right hand."

The album's highlights for me are Lonely Woman, The Maestro, Rouge and He Has Gone. Benny is especially sublime on compositions taken at a saloon-song tempo. Like someone mid-mood absentmindedly stirring a glass of ice cubes or drawing a word in the sand with a big toe, Benny at this pace displays a special depth in rumination and adds poetry to the work rather than simply rendering it.

You also know instantly that Benny gets the composer's mood and emotional intent as he adds his own perspective. It's rare when a jazz pianist can elevate a song with such sensitivity and coloration and take it to a new level. Benny does so with a plush velvet feel and glorious technique. An album of enormous taste and intellect.

JazzWax clips: Here's Lonely Woman...

And here's Benny's Jackie McLean...

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.

Track Listing

Soulful Mr. Timmons; The Maestro; Jackie McLean; Lonely Woman; This Here; Ruby, My Dear; Minor Mishap; Sunset; Blue Drew; Rouge; He Has Gone.


Album information

Title: Solo | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records




Jul 30 Tue
Jul 30 Tue



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.