Friday, November 16, 2012

Grant Green - Street of Dreams


Perhaps it's a bit odd that while the 1950s and 1960s threw up many notable guitarists--Montgomery, Galbraith, Puma, Hall, Ellis, Lowe, Pass, &c--they mostly tended to the quieter end of the spectrum: the guitar wasn't frequently encountered in the tough-as-nails, abrasive music known as hard bop. The only two guitarists to have made much of an impact at Blue Note, the home of hard bop, were Kenny Burrell & Grant Green. Green was a guitarist blessed with the ability to make just about anything sound good; even something as unpromising as "Moon River" (on "The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark") in his hands becomes convincing & impeccable jazz. His playing was supremely melodic, unornamented & relaxed; his sound was delicate, but surprisingly adaptable to even the toughest of hard bop contexts. He recorded in a lot of settings; at the time Blue Note seemed mostly interested in his more commercially-oriented work (gospel, blues, organ trio, Latin, pop standards), & it was only after Green's untimely death in the late 1970s that a lot of Green's most important & grittiest work was released, like a pair of albums with McCoy Tyner & Elvin Jones in the rhythm section, or a clutch of discs with Sonny Clark on piano. Unfortunately, as the 1960s wore on like many jazz musicians (& especially guitarists--think of Montgomery & Benson) Green more & more turned to commercially-oriented music; but his numerous mid-1960s discs amply document a figure who is as much a neglected master as, say, Sonny Clark or Herbie Nichols (though like them he is finally getting his due). This album was released during Green's life, fortunately, & remains one of his best. The band features Larry Young on organ, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes & Elvin Jones on drums. If at a casual glance the setlist looks more "commercial" than an album like "Idle Moments" (Green's finest album as a leader), given that it is dependent on standards rather than originals, don't let that fool you. The best of these four long, relaxed performances is a version of "Lazy Afternoon", reworked into a 5/4 groove, the theme given a tranced, elongated reading. But all four tracks are memorable, unfolding gently, with an almost mesmerizing shimmer. Despite its being on the Blue Note label, this disc is as introspective of mood as a contemporary Bill Evans trio date. The players on this disc crossed paths several times again. The Green/Young/Jones axis frequently appeared in Van Gelder's studio: they also recorded Green's "Talkin' About", Young's "Into Somethin'" (with Sam Rivers), & Green's "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (with Hank Mobley; the title track is another fine instance of Green's ability to make compelling jazz out of unlikely material)--if none of these discs quite touches "Street of Dreams" they are still all rewarding listens. Bobby Hutcherson was also a key component of "Idle Moments", which stands as Green's greatest achievement on disc. - by N. Dorward, Amazon.com

Grant Green's second session with organist Larry Young, Street of Dreams brings back drummer Elvin Jones and adds Bobby Hutcherson on vibes for a mellow, dreamy album that lives up to its title. There are only four selections, all standards and all around eight to ten minutes long, and the musicians approach them as extended mood pieces, creating a marvelously light, cool atmosphere that's maintained throughout the record. Hutcherson is the perfect addition for this project, able to blend in with the modal advancement of the rest of the ensemble while adding his clear, shimmering tone to the overall texture of the album. All the musicians play with a delicate touch that's quite distinct from the modal soul-jazz on Talkin' About; it's not so much romantic as thoughtful and introspective, floating along as if buoyed by clouds. There aren't really any fireworks or funky grooves, as the music is all of a piece, which makes it difficult to choose the highlights from French songwriter Charles Trenet's "I Wish You Love," "Lazy Afternoon," the title track, or "Somewhere in the Night." It's another fine record in a discography filled with them, and yet another underrated Green session. - by Steve Huey, AMG

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Street of Dream
Year: 1964
Label: Blue Note (20-bit SBM, 1998)
Runtime: 33:37

Tracks:
1.  I Wish You Love (Charles Trenet) 8:45
2.  Lazy Afternoon (John Latouche/Jerome Moross) 7:45
3.  Street of Dreams (Sam M. Lewis/Victor Young) 9:04
4.  Somewhere in the Night (Mack Gordon/Josef Myrow) 8:01

Personnel:
Grant Green (Guitar)
Bobby Hutcherson (Vibraphone)
Larry Young (Organ)
Elvin Jones (Drums)

5 comments:

  1. Had this as mp3s for yonks; so many thanks for the opportunity to upgrade...

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  2. Any idea how this one compares to the 2009 RVG-edition?

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  3. It's funny to hear "Que Reste t'il De Nos Amours ?" ("I Wish You Love" from Charles Trenet) elsewhere than in the gypsy swing context :)

    Nice and relaxed music, I love this quite unusual setting : organ + vibraphone + guitar + drums

    Very good musicians, I would have appreciated one or two songs with faster tempo but hey it is not the Green area to look for for this !

    Thank you very much itr for sharing this one

    ReplyDelete

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