The House Band. In the early 1960s, guitarist Grant Green (1931-1979) and pianist Sonny Clark (1931-1963) were the top-drawer house musicians in the Blue Note stables. Grant Green was on hand for some of Blue Note's highest moments (Hank Mobley's Workout, Ike Quebec's Blue and Sentimental, and Lee Morgan's Search for a New Land ). Dexter Gordon considered Sonny Clark his favorite pianist, having him play on the notable Go and A Swinging Affair. Clark also made a series of landmark recordings with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco for Verve. These are only the tip of the iceberg credentials for these two musicians.
Presently, both musician's discographies are fortunately being increased with releases from the new Blue Note Standards series. I say fortunately, because these are two journeymen musicians who, while they were never flashy or brash, always could be counted on to provide solid accompaniment and solos and have received little recent recognition.
To The New World. Grant Green's Standards represents the first US release of this classic Blue Note material. Six of the eight pieces on this disc were previously released only in Japan on LP. All songs were recorded on August 29, 1961 (oddly enough, the same day as Remembering ). This falls after Green's leader date ( Grantstand Blue Note, August 1, 1961) and before being a sideman on Stanley Turrentine's Z.T.'s Blues (Blue Note, September 13, 1961).
The Guitar Trio...No Organ.Standards finds Green in a trio format: bass, drums, and guitar. This is a very intimate and difficult format in which to play, placing a greater onus on the bassist and guitarist in the absence of a piano left hand. The results are very crisp, pristine performances. Bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Al Harewood join Green for his stroll through the American Songbook. Their support is on the same high level as the leader's. The playing by all involved is captured in a clear and up-close manner that I find in common with only a few other Blue Note recordings of the same period. There is no muddiness at all. The drums are just below the surface with the bass. Green's electric Gibson caresses his accompanists rather than overpowering them.
Subtle. This is a collection of faded musical pastels performed in a chamber music format to which grace and art cling like smoke. This is 3:00 AM music, smelling of cigarettes and scotch, recalling lost and current love. Highlights include the opening "You Stepped Out of a Dream" and migrate through a bouncy "Love Walked In" to the intense pinnacle of the disc, "You and the Night and the Music." A svelte "All the Things You Are" (Dizzy Gillespie?s arrangement) is also represented. This disc is a uniquely pleasurable listening experience.
Riding On A Blue Note. Blue Note Records has released four other discs in their Standards series of recordings. They are Lee Morgan (BN23213), The Three Sounds (BN21281), Sonny Clark (BN21283), and Jimmy Smith (BN21282). All of these recordings contain either previously unreleased or limited released material. All 50s and 60s Blue Note material should be welcomed and accepted as the history it is.
You Stepped Out Of A Dream, Love Walked In, If I Had You, I'll Remember April, You and The Night and The Music, All The Things You Are, I Remember You, If I Had You (Alternate Take).
Grant Green (guitar); Wilbur Ware (bass); Al Harewood (drums).
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