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Grant Green

A severely underrated player during his lifetime, Grant Green is one of the great unsung heroes of jazz guitar. He combined an extensive foundation in R&B with a mastery of bebop and simplicity that put expressiveness ahead of technical expertise. Green was a superb blues interpreter, and while his later material was predominantly blues and R&B, he was also a wondrous ballad and standards soloist. He was a particular admirer of Charlie Parker, and his phrasing often reflected it.

Grant Green was born in St. Louis in 1935 (although many records during his lifetime incorrectly listed 1931). He learned his instrument in grade school from his guitar-playing father, and was playing professionally by the age of thirteen with a gospel group. He worked gigs in his home town and in East St. Louis, Illinois -- playing in the '50s with Jimmy Forrest, Harry Edison, and Lou Donaldson -- until he moved to New York in 1960 at the suggestion of Donaldson. Green told Dan Morgenstern in a Down Beat interview: "The first thing I learned to play was boogie-woogie. Then I had to do a lot of rock & roll. It's all blues, anyhow."

During the early '60s, both his fluid, tasteful playing in organ/guitar/drum combos and his other dates for Blue Note established Green as a star, though he seldom got the critical respect given other players. He collaborated with many organists, among them Brother Jack McDuff, Sam Lazar, Baby Face Willette, Gloria Coleman, Big John Patton, and Larry Young. He was off the scene for a bit in the mid-'60s, but came back strong in the late '60s and '70s. Green played with Stanley Turrentine, Dave Bailey, Yusef Lateef, Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones.

Sadly, drug problems interrupted his career in the '60s, and undoubtedly contributed to the illness he suffered in the late '70s. Green was hospitalized in 1978 and died a year later. Despite some rather uneven LPs near the end of his career, the great body of his work represents marvelous soul-jazz, bebop, and blues.

Although he mentions Charlie Christian and Jimmy Raney as influences, Green always claimed he listened to horn players (Charlie Parker and Miles Davis) and not other guitar players, and it shows. No other player has this kind of single-note linearity (he avoids chordal playing). There is very little of the intellectual element in Green's playing, and his technique is always at the service of his music. And it is music, plain and simple, that makes Green unique.

Green's playing is immediately recognizable -- perhaps more than any other guitarist. Green has been almost systematically ignored by jazz buffs with a bent to the cool side, and he has only recently begun to be appreciated for his incredible musicality. Perhaps no guitarist has ever handled standards and ballads with the brilliance of Grant Green. Mosaic, the nation's premier jazz reissue label, issued a wonderful collection The Complete Blue Note Recordings with Sonny Clark, featuring prime early '60s Green albums plus unissued tracks. Some of the finest examples of Green's work can be found there. ~ Michael Erlewine & Ron Wynn, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

linksgayaren a
From the Fleetwood this is one of the cats I really dig. Peace
zapmc
Heard Let the Music Take Your Mind on WPFW while stuck in DC traffic one day. Was blown away. Never a jazz guy, but was a Grant Green fan ever since.
Idle Moments is classic late night stonin' tunes
RUSTY TROMBONE FEST. SAN FRANCISCO VERY FUNNY
cranking the tune sookie sookie
First time hearing Bedouin. Rocks !!! X
Damn! Could this man play or what?!
Beautiful work. If you like Grant Green you sould check out Calvin Keys and Bill Frisell.
steven_w_gre g o r y
I've always loved Grant Green. He is so accessible that listening is pure pleasure. He never shows off with jarring flashy fireworks that distract from the groove. The Zen waters are calm and soothing the scenery is beautiful and there are lots of fish to catch!
This guy is awesome!
I have had Grant Green in my collection since the 60's . He is great and he knew how to put a funky band together . His best recording are the live .. ie Live at Club Mozambique and Grant Green Alive .. check it out
I had in honor and pleasure of meeting Grant Green in 1979. He was so down to earth. I didn't know just how he was but just being able to sit around and talk, eat and just have fun with him, his family and his band was a time in my life I will never forget. RIP . You are missed.
Live at the Lighthouse!
He is Walter Becker's (of Steely Dan fame) hero. Nuff said.
I saw him live at the Rusty Trombone Festival in San Francisco back in the 70's. It was a life changing moment for me.
jamesmoses46
check out pat martino,mike stern,charli e christian,ed d i e lang!!!
webersf
I love Grant Green,too
Richard King Grant Green was the man
Top 3 jazz guitarists.. .
Kenny Burrell
Grant Green
Wes Montgomery

Very nice bio, BTW.
Grant green rules!
he is a great , clean, resourceful guitar player... Amazing..
Add my voice to the chorus of appreciation for Grant. Nicely written Bio, too. Jdavid
He was a pioneer as far as bringing so called jazz to many young guitarists ....very accessible .
johnrstark
Check out his Idle Moments session on Blue Note, with Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Henderson--t h e title track is especially fine. Approaches perfection.
jazz, man...
jazz icon
He got to be himself - sophisticate d , funky and all way`s musical
skirtsoplain
Iron City is pure genius
His 'single-note linearity' rocks.
Great! Love the 50's jazz.
the goombah chiming in again. his music is a perfect fit or my radio show TRIBALAND. www.horrible r e a l i t y l a n d . c o m
pdools311
I normally don't listen to jazz, but I find Grant Green's music to be perfect background music while studying/wri t i n g a paper
im listening to the groovy sounds and having some beans alla vito
debbie_snell
Idle Moments is an example of the beauty of jazz being able to capture perfect synchronicit y between musicians and the result of it. Grant Green is terrific and Idle Moments is a work of art!
The album/CD "Street of Dreams" is my favorite Grant Green, especially the cut "Somewhere I the Night" which became the theme song for the TV detective series "the Naked City" in the 60's.
Rediscovered . Beautiful
Very Smooth~
goodcharlott e j a k e
Beautiful, thoughtful lines. It's a shame we have to deal with the likes of Pat Metheny now.
Very smooth guitar player.
johnrstark
The title track on Grant Green's "Idle Moments" is a haunting, unforgettabl e masterpiece that features Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson. Check it out.
I saw him several times in the '60's...nigh t s to remember!
tunisia48
beautiful work
I love Grant Green!
I just love the way Grant Green expresses himself with his guitar!
amazing
I really don't understand why this guy isn't more popular. He was amazing. He deserves more respect and recognition and also more of his albums on Pandora.
I rank "Idle Moments" in the top 5 hard-bop albums all time. Every element seems to blend seamlessly with every other. Henderson's sax, Hutcherson's vibes, Duke Pearson's playing and compositions , Green's emotive and bluesy guitar work. It seems even Rudy VanGelder was up for this date moreso than usual! Wonderful listening.
grant green in my opinion was highly underrated except by musicans. I meet people and they have never heard of this great guitarist. unbelieveabl e . of course Jazz itself has often had to take a backseat to some of the junk music that has been playing on radio,etc.
great to listen too OUTSTANDING! ! ! ! ! 1
I like his non-chordal playing, I dig most everything I've heard
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