Grant Green: Talkin' About

C. Andrew Hovan By

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Although it has now arrived posthumously, guitarist Grant Green is finally being recognized for the immense talent that he was. Through a recent biography and the active sampling of his ‘70s work by the acid jazz crowd, Green has become a hot commodity after the fact. The core of his most profound work is documented on Blue Note, yet it is oddly inexplicable that it has taken so long for the reissue of Talkin’ About, as it is clearly one of the guitarist’s best and most important records.

To put it simply, this was to be a meeting of giants, for as important as Green’s innovations were, Young and Jones were equally influential on their respective instruments. The fact that there was intangible chemistry between the three men is further confirmed by the fact that this would not be the last time they’d work together as a team. Two months almost to the day after Talkin’ About was completed, the trio plus tenor man Sam Rivers would enter the Van Gelder studios for Young’s debut as a leader, Into Somethin’. That would then be followed by Green’s I Want to Hold Your Hands and Street of Dreams.

For the session at hand, Green carefully selected a program made up of two Larry Young originals, and old standard, and two oddities that turn out to be silk purses fashioned from sow’s ears. The lead off track, "Talkin’ About J.C." was dedicated to John Coltrane and appeared on an earlier Prestige session of Young’s, but this proves to be the definitive performance. Green’s lengthy solo is as visceral and engaging as anything he ever laid down on tape, with great momentum created by repeating a short riff and taking it through permutations that displace the accents to different parts of the beat. Green’s ability to tell a story and build interest comes to the fore when he takes a second solo following Young’s that tops even his first incendiary spot.

As far removed from Streisand’s overwrought version as you can get, Green turns "People" into a delicate ballad performance that stresses his more lyrical side. Green often made a point of how he was more influenced by horn players than other guitarists and his way with a single-note line marks him as a true original.

Rounding things out, more ballad perfection comes with "You Don’t Know What Love Is," Young’s "Luny Tune" provides some up tempo cooking, and Green’s take on "I’m An Old Cowhand" is absolutely delightful, akin to his successes with similar folksy material on Goin’ West. All-in-all, it cannot be overstatement to suggest that Talkin’ About is a classic filled with the "sounds of surprise" that characterize jazz of the highest caliber.

Track Listing: Talkin

Personnel: Grant Green- guitar, Larry Young- organ, Elvin Jones- drums

Title: Talkin' About | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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