Grant Green: Solid (1964) Blue Note/ King

Grant-Green-Solid-cv-1920-LJCSelection: Minor League (Pearson)

Minor League is a cracking Duke Pearson swinger from a classic Blue Note session recorded in 1964, not released until the late 70’s (King, Japan  and UA, LT series)

Artists:

James Spaulding (alto sax) Joe Henderson (tenor sax) McCoy Tyner (piano) Grant Green (guitar) Bob Cranshaw (bass) Elvin Jones (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 12, 1964

Recording here at age 28, Green’s heart gave out at the age of 43, in 1979.

Music

The selection Minor League is a classic Blue Note composition, with instant recognition of the Blue Note sound. “The head gives off that really hip, quartal harmony that really rose to prominence in the 60’s. “The strong brass presence also eliminates any lingering concern it might be just a guitar album. Joe Henderson!

Green has a soul-jazz feeling on Solid, soft warm tone in unison with the brass, at times sounding more Hammond B3 than guitar, fluid  linear melodic exploration of the compositions. He has an unusual pairing of horns – Joe Henderson’s gruff tenor with James Spaulding’s bright alto. Henderson has a hard, fractious tone, his athletic figures covering the entire register of the tenor, while Spaulding does a credible job just holding his own.

Tyner contributes characteristically elegant sweeping forms, left hand chopping accents against the right hand’s fluid exploration of the upper keys.  Elvin Jones more than hints at the power below, punishing the ride cymbal to mark time. (Jones is a mixed blessing on Green albums. Here he is well controlled, but on Matador Bedouin, he treats us to a long and out-of-place drum solo – the type which clears the auditorium and fills the bar). As always, the bass is the forgotten hero, Bob Cranshaw modestly holding everyone together.

The mid ’60’s Blue Note  line-ups generated a huge amount of sessions which never saw the light of day until Michael Cuscuna unearthed them for the LT and King issues. They are the  first pressings of RVG recordings, though mastered by later house engineers and not Van Gelder. Instead of writing cheques to Ebayers for “original insanely-rare early Blue Notes”, it is well worthwhile exploring this rich seam of mid 60’s previously unissued sessions. There are many that merited release at the time but were held back due to avoid overloading the market.

Vinyl: King GXK-8187

King Unissued Masters Series issue of LT 990 – factory sample white label pressing, 1981. There is no original release back in the Blue Note years, original 1st press is United Artists LT 990 (1980) followed in quick succession by Japan (1981). The LT is more likely sourced from original tapes, and Japan from copy tape, if that makes any difference (I think it does, to the disadvantage of the Japanese)

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Collectors Corner: what’s the alternative?

LT 990 – Solid, United Artists Blue Note Jazz Classics

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Selection: Minor League (UA issue)

Judge for yourself.

:

Despite the reputation and generally high quality of  reissues by King, to my ear, the LT offers a more lively, punchy presentation. I engage with it more, the King feels slightly slow and disengaging. It’s a common phenomenon in head to head comparison: it isn’t really slower, but it feels slower, your brain is trying to tell you something. The LT is more readily available, fantastic value,  but it doesn’t have a green cover. But a snooker cue ball?

The LT series sound a lot better than I originally thought,  uneven quality, some are  better than others, though a lot of cable upgrades since those early days have helped everything sound better.

Capitol Connoisseur jump in (1995)

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I don’t have this, because two’s plenty, but they are generally quite satisfying listen.

2009 the LT series reissued in a familiar cover design, but brown? What were they thinking, solids, babies nappies? The name is Green. Grant Green. As in the colour “green“, got it?

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More Grant Green: Japan-only releases

As with Lee Morgan , Grant Green was treated with the same reverence by TokyoJazzCollector, especially when graced by the presence of Sonny Clark on three of them. I have only the three top row. Just Solid and Nigeria went onto be reissued in the Liberty/United LT series. The other four had no US release at the time, just  Japan-only issues with alternative covers

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As always, Mosaic jump in. You can always  grab the Mosiac Green/Clark boxset to get all  the missing Grant Green/ Sonny Clark titles.

 

Our friends at Music Matters have a modern take on a couple of the Blue Note  Grant Green’s including Solid and Matador on 2x45rpm. Great alt-covers, Green takes a mean Francis Wolff portrait. It’s a timely reminder of what people actually look like, instead of the tsunami of fake-smile selfies drowning us online today.

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LJC READER POLL – you know you want to!

Your ten favourite Grant Green Blue Note albums from the selection of twenty five below. They are presented in approximate year of recording, to better understand the evolution of the artist.

Because I’m generous to a fault, you can nominate up to ten albums, to give some of the less well known titles a chance. If you want to nominate fewer, that’s ok too. The only Executive Order I am issuing (this morning) is that you all absolutely must vote for Idle Moments (if you want to, of course, no pressure). Any voters for The Latin Bit, my office, now, no biscuits. Omitted from poll is Blues for Lou (CD only, I think).

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Votes must be cast within one week, check back to see how your favourites compare with others. You never know, you could be an outlier.

Now if you would kindly step out of my vinyl time machine, fast forward to today, Athens, Greece, wonderful city, great people (they’ve had a few thousand years more practice than some)  there is a remarkable authentic ’50’s /60’s vibe of The Blue Note Trio.

LJC-Michael-Caine- Professor Jazz fastshow30I give an unsolicited recommendation to The Blue Note Trio, repertoire exclusively from  Blue Note  Records 1952-65, great concept! The sounds of Grant Green (Michael Papadopoulos) Jimmy Smith/Larry Young  ( Leonardo Corradi)   Grady Tate/ Donald Bailey (Sera Bellos),  cooking today.  Album covers projected on a screen. Great, 100 upticks!

The only way it could be more authentic is the percussionist adding scratches, a few repeating clicks… The Blue Note Trio (strong VG) … all part of the vinyl experience… Seriously, great stuff, I really admire what they are doing.

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Give them a listen, if you love Blue Note, you will love the sound of these guys: http://www.bluenoteorgantrio.com/

They are here,  performing the same Grant Green “Solid” /  Duke Pearson track, Minor League.

Anything you want to add, floor is yours.

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16 thoughts on “Grant Green: Solid (1964) Blue Note/ King

  1. Thanks for the kind words about the MM covers of GGs ‘shelved’ works. Matador and Solid are both on 33 as well now.
    I thought Gooden’s Corner came out quite well. If you know Wolff’s photo of GG from that one you’ll know how I cropped out the nasty looking abscess on Grant’s hand. The jazz life was a hard life, no doubt, but GG gone much too soon.
    ‘Feelin The Spirit’ got my top vote in the poll. There’s a torrid exchange between GG and HH in ‘Moses…’ that never fails to get the neck hairs standing to attention.

    Great site, LJC.

  2. i never liked it when musicians dwelled on the accomplishments of others. so the trio can emulate jimmy smith’s sound… ok, that’s nice. i like his records, but what do they offer as musicians besides mimicry?

  3. Thanks for this post. It encouraged me to retake a couple of cover photos which were of particularly poor quality, having been shot and added to me own blog in a hurry a couple of years ago.
    We are lucky to have such a large number of sessions featuring Grant Green as leader to listen to and enjoy and, like many replying here, I have copies of most of them.
    I was surprised to read Leonard Feather’s sleeve notes on Green Street where that frequently waspish critic was effusive in his praise:- “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.”
    I’m with Lenny on this.
    I’m confident that LJC will get round to writing about more non- Blue Note GG releases in due course. I’ve looked at Iron City and I can also commend the May 1965 session with Larry Young, Harold Vick et al, which was released on Verve as ‘His Majesty King Funk.’
    I voted tactically, omitting Idle Moments form my list in an effort to prevent it running away with the lead. It didn’t work.

  4. If we’re only polling Grant’s Blue Notes, the absence of First Session (released in 2001 I think?) is understandable, but Grant’s First Stand? That has to be one of my favorites, notable not only for its excellent playing but one of “Baby Face” Willette’s few recoded appearances. It’s in the photo montage, but not the poll—although it’s easy to make a mistake, as he did record a quite a few, didn’t he?

    And I second your opinions on “Minor League”, it epitomizes the Blue Note sound. I do wonder why these albums weren’t released in their day, being of such high musical caliber. I understand the issue arising from saturating the market, but still, it would be nice to see them with bold Reid Miles artwork, laminated covers, pressed on plastylite vinyl, the RVG stamp in the runout…

    Well, we can dream. At least MM gave the covers a go, A for effort.

  5. Eek! Monster poll. It’ll take me days to choose my favourites. I’ve been listening to Sunday Morning recently which is a sweet blend of Green’s guitar and Kenny Drew’s piano. Also, I have five out of six of those King records, complete with obi’s. This suggests in something of a Green fanatic, doesn’t it?

  6. Cannot have enough spotlight on Grant Green as far as I’m concerned, wonderful. Am I missing Iron City here? Cobblestone, 1972, the session from 1967 (or ’65?) that caused an illustrious thread on the… illustrious Steve Hoffman forum as to whether the session was with John Patton or Larry Young. Talkin’ about a mystery…

  7. I confess, I voted for ‘Latin bit’ despite dodgy cover photograph and title – I love the ‘Blues for Juanita’ track. I also voted for ‘Live at the Lighthouse’ despite someone shouting ‘bravo’ virtually through the whole of the recording.

  8. I can’t possibly vote until ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ is included on the list. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and I can only imagine the reaction from John Lennon if he ever heard this version of the song.

  9. Another BN Ball Tearer, LJC. This has always been my favourite hard bop GG title [in the ‘ballad’ vein, I reckon its ‘Idle Moments’].

    And yet another example of of the resourceful ‘Shelf Archeology’ of Michael Cuscuna, who put this title out in the late 1970’s, and to whom we should all genuflect 1 day pa:

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