Green Street features Blue Note guitarist Green with just bass and drums in support and nowhere to hide. He doesn’t need to. It is a great performance, stripped down to basics, without anything that is remotely superfluous.
This early album, from 1961, was Grant Green’s second release on Blue Note, recorded just two months after Grant’s First Stand. The opener, entitled, naturally, Number 1 Green Street swings out with Green’s strong bluesy lines, which confirms that lead lines played with crisp precision by horn players were a major influence.
Monk’s Round Midnight was a track that everybody wanted to hear in 1961 and this version does not disappoint. I’m well aware that there are many collectors who have a strong preference for mono recordings. However, for my money, the stereo version of this track on a good stereo system is wonderful. My version is a high quality WAV file ripped to a Naim UnitiServe from the 2002 24 bit Blue Note RVG series remaster. I’ll be delighted and surprised if I ever hear the original vinyl first pressing over a system that sounds better.
Grant’s Dimensions is next up. Although based on a blues form, GG plays around with the structure and produces his own distinctive composition, with a perfectly crafted contribution from Tucker on bass. Take a listen now, courtesy of YouTube.
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Green With Envy has a short sequence where Green plays the same note repeatedly, to the point where the listener begins to think that the track is stuck.
Alone Together, is jazz standard, composed by silent film accompanists, turned lawyer, turned marketing exec, finally turned mega-successful composer, Arthur Schwarz. It has a teasing, slinky vibe to it and in the hands of many becomes dark and sombre, although these qualities don’t spring to mind on hearing GG’s treatment.
The RVG Edition CD has two bonus alternate takes of the two last two tracks.
The original sleeve notes were written by no lesser commentator than Leonard Feather.
It’s fair to say that Len was a fan of the early GG as he wrote:-
“Superlative piled on superlative can build a dangerously precipitous mountain. After you have hailed the most brilliant new this and the most remarkable new that, what words do you have left when a Grant Green comes along.”
Well called, Leonard!.
So pour a large glass of something you like, dim the lights, take some ‘me time’ and enjoy. Green Street is a great album from a guitarist with a fine discography. If you see it, grab yourself a copy.
The band etc.: Grant Green (guitar); ben Taylor (bass); Dave Bailey (drums). Recorded: 1 April 1961. Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Produced: Alfred Lion. Recording: Rudy Van Gelder. Cover photos: Francis Wolff. Cover Design: Reid Miles. Sleeve notes: Leonard Feather. Originally issued as Blue Note BST 84071.