Jimmy Greene came into many advantageous and heady situations early on in his career, and he has really begun to find himself as an artist within the past few years. Now in his early thirties, Greene had made a total of three previous albums as a leader, and while they demonstrated his promise, they also hinted at something more was under the surface which had yet to be fully documented on disc. All this is to say that True Life Stories just might be the album we've been waiting for from Greene, because it most clearly demonstrates his muse.
Greene's writing is especially strong on True Life Stories; the melody on the opening "Re-Affirmation is punctuated by shifting accents and hits. He negotiates the challenging structure with ease, then he quiets down for the start of his solo, building the tension while telling a story. His tone is consistent throughout the range of the horn, reaching for upper-register cries on occasion for textural variety. It's all there in the first eight minutes, setting the tone for the remainder of this wonderful set.
Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt steps up for "Song For Isaiah, which also finds Greene on soprano sax, an instrument that he plays with a great deal of fluency and creativity. Like his other compositions, this one also gains its charm through the use of a structure that breathes in a natural way both melodically and rhythmically, thus stepping away from the usual 32-bar head-with-solos format. Pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland also help make these performances a success; they are especially sensitive to a less overt and more suggestive form of timekeeping.
Jimmy Greene truly comes into his own on True Life Stories, arguably his best effort yet as a leader. While his spiritual inspirationas revealed in the liner notes and through the inclusion of the numbers "How Great Thou Art and "A Closer Walk might have something to do with this recent growth spurt, his inherent musicality has held him in good steed previously, and now it looks like bigger and better things are on the way.
Re-Affirmation; Song For Isaiah; My Ideal; Evidence/True Life Stories; How Great Thou Art; Unconditional; A Closer Walk; Take Advantage
Jimmy Greene: tenor and soprano saxophone; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Xavier Davis: piano;
Reuben Rogers: bass; Eric Harland: drums