Guitarist Barry Greene, who teaches at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, unveils some formidable chops on Sojourner, on which he is ably accompanied by Bales, Hanley and Stombaugh in a program that concisely blends four of his engaging compositions (“Institutionalized,” “Sincerity,” “Sojourner,” “It Happened to Me”) with Jobim’s soft–spoken samba, “Triste,” Charlie Parker’s sunny “Yardbird Suite,” Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” Monk’s “Evidence” and a brace of enduring standards, “Without a Song” and “It Could Happen to You” (whose chord changes are used on “It Happened to Me” to fashion a medley of sorts). Style? Influences? I must confess (again) that I can’t really tell one guitarist from another; what I can report is that Greene is an excellent player, a superior technician with power to spare who can also get inside a ballad and amplify its loveliness and charm. He’s obviously well–acquainted with the blues, and has listened closely to those who came before him as well as those who are his peers. The single–note runs are crisp and sure, the chords well–placed and persuasive. While hardly an original voice (when was the last time you heard one?), Greene is conspicuously enterprising, never less than provocative — and always accessible. Best of all, he swings — as does the rhythm section (Bales, another member of the UNF faculty, is a notably effective soloist and accompanist). A promising debut by a player who won’t win any polls, but could win your allegiance and your heart.
Track listing: Institutionalized; Without a Song; Sincerity; Sojourner; Triste; Yardbird Suite; Nardis; It Could Happen to You; It Happened to Me; Evidence (62:55).
Barry Greene, guitar; Kevin Bales, piano; Jeff Hanley, bass; Tim Stombaugh, drums.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.