Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grant Green - Matador

Grant Green recorded so much high-quality music for Blue Note during the first half of the '60s that a number of excellent sessions went unissued at the time. Even so, it's still hard to figure out why 1964's Matador was only released in Japan in 1979, prior to its U.S. CD reissue in 1990 -- it's a classic and easily one of Green's finest albums. In contrast to the soul-jazz and jazz-funk for which Green is chiefly remembered, Matador is a cool-toned, straight-ahead modal workout that features some of Green's most advanced improvisation, even more so than his sessions with Larry Young. Part of the reason for that is that Green is really pushed by his stellar backing unit: pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Elvin Jones. Not only is Green leading a group that features one-half of the classic Coltrane Quartet, but he even takes on Coltrane's groundbreaking arrangement of "My Favorite Things" -- and more than holds his own over ten-plus minutes. In fact, every track on the album is around that length; there are extended explorations of two Green originals ("Green Jeans" and the title track) and Duke Pearson's Middle Eastern-tinged "Bedouin," plus the bonus cut "Wives and Lovers," a swinging Bacharach pop tune not on the Japanese issue. The group interplay is consistently strong, but really the spotlight falls chiefly on Green, whose crystal-clear articulation flourishes in this setting. And, for all of Matador's advanced musicality, it ends up being surprisingly accessible. This sound may not be Green's claim to fame, but Matador remains one of his greatest achievements.- by Steve Huey, AMG

Flowing and endlessly inventive in its own right, "Matador" is also a great musical document in that it unites half of John Coltrane's quartet and Sonny Rollins' bassist (Bob Cranshaw) behind Green's liquid guitar. While Coltrane in particular was in the midst of reinventing jazz as we know it at the time of this release (1965), his sidemen, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, seem perfectly at ease with Green's relaxed but firmly swinging approach. Particularly interesting from an historical perspective is Green's reworking of "My Favorite Things," the show tune that Coltrane had made famous in 1960. Trane reworked it many times, and by the time of his volcanic performance at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival, it bore little resemblance to the gentle, Eastern-flavored waltz he'd created three years before. Green brings "My Favorite Things" back to the way Coltrane originally recorded it. Tyner plays the familiar recurring vamp and Jones sets up the waltz beat over which he lays multiple rhythms. Because Green played a single-note style with little or no chording, the guitar easily takes the place of Trane's soprano sax. The only way that I can describe Green's solo on the tune is that it sings. He stays with the complexity of Jones' drumming as well as Trane would and remains in firm control throughout the course of a great solo that recalls the saxophonist's work and phrasing without ever sacrificing his own unique voice. Careful jazz listeners who have not already done so will enjoy playing Grant's version of "My Favorite Things" back to back with any and all of Trane's incarnations. The CD includes a great bonus track as well: the Bacharach tune "Wives and Lovers," which was recorded by Dionne Warwick. The original tune fairly oozes swinging '60s easy listening cheese, but as with nearly all Bacharach tunes it retains a nugget of melodic intelligence and integrity and Grant finds this core and taps it. In fact, all the tunes on the release are nearly impeccable, so the inclusion of "Bedouin" from the great and underrated composer/pianist Duke Pearson is no surprise. Pearson's version on the now-deleted Blue Note release "Wahoo!" is a great Middle Eastern-flavored minor gem, and Green again proves himself up to the task of covering it, as he exploits its minor-keyed, exotic sound. Tyner, as elsewhere, works seamlessly behind Green and contributes a crystalline solo. In 1965 pop music was getting ready to embark on an era when rock groups would think nothing of spending weeks and months on a recording session. Think of that when you put on "Matador," which Green and company recorded in one session. Yet "Matador" for some reason never found its way to the record bins (except in Japan) until Michael Cuscuna recently rescued it. Go figure. - Tyler Smith,

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Matador
Year: 1965
Label: Blue Note (1990)
Runtime: 51:16

1.  Matador (Grant Green) 10:53
2.  My Favorite Things (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammaerstein) 10:25
3.  Green Jeans (Grant Green) 9:12
4.  Bedouin (Duke Pearson) 11:43
5.  Wives And Lovers (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) 9:00
Grant Green (Guitar)
McCoy Tyner (Piano)
Bob Cranshaw (Double Bass)
Elvin Jones (Drums)


  1. great share, nice gift.
    thanks a lot!
    but may i hope to see Chico Hamilton - The Dealer re-uploaded?
    thanks in advance.

  2. Very nice share indeed. Thanks for your stellar work.

  3. your EAC settings need to be fixed. There are a few things you have wrong.

    just trying to help :)

  4. Thanks. Very interesting line-up. I love your blog, friend.

  5. I wrote a comment but my browser crashed...

    Well basically I just said that it's indeed a wonderful recording, I'm getting more and more into Grant Green playing those days so thank you very much for sharing this ! Almost impossible to pick up a favorite song :)

    ...and indeed what a line-up !

  6. Thanks for awesome stuff!!!



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