Grant GreenSharony Andrews Green

Grant Green: Rediscovering the Forgotten Genius of Jazz Guitar

Backbeat Books

This one's a 'page turner' in publisher speak. You start right in and don't stop until you've read the whole thing. Grant Green, of course, is not as entirely forgotten as the title suggests. European fans, huddling over arcane discographies and discussing albums, note for note, will tell you that Grant Green is by no means a diminished memory. Blue Note's house, and star, guitarist made an incredible number of albums during his career. The blues were the stuff of this man's true inner urge. Coupling Grant Green with Ike Quebec (on "Blue and Sentimental" and "Born to be Blue") was as natural as Sir Edmund Hilary dating Mount Everest. Green and Quebec cavort and groove together like two natural-born brothers. The same occurred when Hank Mobley took the tenor chair (on "Workout"). Hank could wail when it happened for him, but it is Green who sponsors the moment, and Wynton Kelly, no stranger to a bluesy romp, does get the message on "Greasin'Easy." It is always Grant Green who brings the sessions back home. Green on "Idle Moments" contributes to one of the best Jazz albums ever recorded, and everybody plays beautifully.

The life of Grant Green emerges as a sort of everyman's experience of being black in America. The pain and the dope are all a part of it. The disconnected family. The friends and sometimes shadowy foes. But above all the love of music, especially those blues-inflected runs that showed all aspiring guitarists the way it could be done if they have the feeling. The book is gossipy and full of tributes from the musicians and Jazz fans who (still) dig what Grant Green lays down. Sharony Andrews Green, like all good writers, catches the authentic "voice" of the man and his story. Her presumably verbatim reports come across in a very natural way, which adds to one's reading pleasure. The extensive discography (I really need to catch Green with Larry Young) is a welcome addition, lacking only in who-plays-what. Older fans will not miss it, but younger listeners would have benefited. Nevertheless, a good book, a laid-back read. Go for it.

by Lawrence Brazier

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