Grant Green

Grant Green (St. Louis, MO June 6, 1935 – New York City January 31, 1979) was a jazz guitarist and composer. Recording prolifically and almost exclusively for Blue Note Records (as both leader and sideman) Green performed well in hard bop, soul jazz, bebop and latin-tinged settings throughout his career. Critics Michael Erlewine and Ron Wynn write, “A severely underrated player during his lifetime, Grant Green is one of the great unsung heroes of jazz guitar … Green’s playing is immediately recognizable — perhaps more than any other guitarist.” Critic Dave Hunter described his sound as “lithe, loose, slightly bluesy and righteously groovy”. He often performed in an organ trio, a small group with an organ and drummer. He first performed in a professional setting at the age of 12. His influences were Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker, Ike Quebec, Lester Young, Jimmy Raney, Jimmy Smith and Miles Davis, he first played boogie-woogie before moving on to jazz. His first recordings in St. Louis were with tenor saxophonist Jimmy Forrest for the Delmark label. The drummer in the band was Elvin Jones, later the powerhouse behind John Coltrane. Grant recorded with Elvin again in the early Sixties. Lou Donaldson discovered Grant playing in a bar in St. Louis. After touring together with Donaldson, Grant arrived in New York around 1959-60. Lou Donaldson introduced Grant to Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records. Lion was so impressed with Grant that, rather than testing Grant as a sideman, as was the usual Blue Note practice, Lion arranged for him to record as a bandleader first. Green’s initial recording session went unreleased until 2001, however, owing to a lack of confidence on Green’s behalf. Despite the shelving of his first session, Green’s recording relationship with Lion and Blue Note was to last, with a few exceptions, throughout the Sixties. From 1961 to 1965, Grant made more appearances on Blue Note LPs, as leader or sideman, than anyone else. Grant’s first issued album as a leader was Grant’s First Stand. This was followed in the same year by Green Street and Grantstand. Grant was named best new star in the Down Beat critics’ poll, 1962, and, as a result, his influence spread wider than New York. He often provided support to the other important musicians on Blue Note, including saxophonists Hank Mobley, Ike Quebec, Stanley Turrentine and Harold Vick, as well as organist Larry Young. Sunday Mornin’ , The Latin Bit and Feelin’ the Spirit are all loose concept albums, each taking a musical theme or style: Gospel, Latin and spirituals respectively. Grant always carried off his more commercial dates with artistic success during this period. Idle Moments (1963), featuring Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson, and Solid (1964), featuring the Coltrane rhythm section, are acclaimed as two of Grant’s best recordings. Many of Grant’s recordings were not released during his lifetime. These include Matador, in which Grant is once again in the heavyweight company of the Coltrane rhythm section, and a series of sessions with pianist Sonny Clark. In 1966 Grant left Blue Note and recorded for several other labels, including Verve. From 1967 to 1969 Grant was, for the most part, inactive due to personal problems and the effects of heroin addiction. In 1969 Grant returned with a new funk-influenced band. His recordings from this period include the commercially successful Green is Beautiful and the soundtrack to the film The Final Comedown. Grant left Blue Note again in 1974 and the subsequent recordings he made with other labels are usually described as “commercial”. Grant spent much of 1978 in hospital and, against the advice of doctors, went back on the road to earn some money. While in New York to play an engagement at George Benson’s Breezin’ Lounge, Grant collapsed in his car of a heart attack in New York City on January 31, 1979. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and was survived by six children. Since Green’s demise, his reputation has grown to legendary status & many compilations of both his earlier (post-bop/straight ahead & soul jazz) & later (funkier/dancefloor jazz) periods, exist. Green used a Gibson ES-330, then a Gibson L7 with a Gibson McCarty pickguard/pick-up, an Epiphone Emperor (with the same pick-up) and finally had a custom built D’Aquisto. George Benson said he would turn all the bass and treble off the amp, and max the midrange. This way he could get his signature punchy, biting tone. Discography: As leader 1961 First Session (Blue Note)** Grant’s First Stand (Blue Note) Reaching Out (Black Lion) Green Street (Blue Note) Sunday Mornin’ (Blue Note) Grantstand (Blue Note) Remembering (Blue Note Japan)** Standards (Reissue of “Remembering”) (Blue Note)** Gooden’s Corner (Blue Note Japan)** 1962 The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Grant Green with Sonny Clark (Mosaic)** Nigeria (Blue Note Japan)** Oleo (Blue Note Japan)** Born to Be Blue (Blue Note)** The Latin Bit (Blue Note) Goin’ West (Blue Note) Feelin’ the Spirit (Blue Note) 1963 Blues for Lou (Blue Note)** Am I Blue? (Blue Note) Idle Moments (Blue Note) 1964 Matador (Blue Note Japan)** Solid (Blue Note)** Talkin’ About! (Blue Note) Street of Dreams (Blue Note) 1965 I Want to Hold Your Hand (Blue Note) His Majesty King Funk (Verve) 1967 Iron City (Cobblestone) 1969 Carryin’ On (Blue Note) 1970 Green Is Beautiful (Blue Note) Alive! (Blue Note) 1971 Live at Club Mozambique (Blue Note)** Visions (Blue Note) Shades of Green (Blue Note) The Final Comedown (Soundtrack) (Blue Note) 1972 Live at The Lighthouse (Blue Note) 1976 The Main Attraction (Kudu) 1978 Easy (Versatile) Grant Green recorded more than twenty sessions as a leader for Blue Note between 1960-72. Many of them were not released until years after the recording dates, as shown ** As sideman 1959 Jimmy Forrest – All the Gin Is Gone (Delmark) Jimmy Forrest – Black Forrest (Delmark) 1960 Sam Lazar – Space Flight (Argo) Willie Dixon – Blues Roots Series, Vol. 12 (Chess) 1961 Lou Donaldson – Here ‘Tis (Blue Note) Baby Face Willette – Face to Face (Blue Note) Baby Face Willette – Stop and Listen (Blue Note) Brother Jack McDuff – The Honeydripper (Prestige) Stanley Turrentine – Up at Minton’s, Vol. 1 + 2 (Blue Note) Hank Mobley – Workout (Blue Note) Horace Parlan – Up and Down (Blue Note) The Complete Blue Note Horace Parlan Sessions (Mosaic) Brother Jack McDuff – Steppin’ Out (Prestige) Brother Jack McDuff – Goodnight, It’s Time To Go (Prestige) Stanley Turrentine – Z.T.’s Blues (Blue Note) Lou Donaldson – A Man with a Horn (Blue Note) Sonny Red/Grant Green/Barry Harris – The Mode (Jazzland) Sonny Red – Images (Jazzland) Ike Quebec – Blue and Sentimental (Blue Note) 1962 Joe Carroll – Man with a Happy Sound (Charlie Parker Records) Dodo Greene – My Hour of Need (Blue Note) Don Wilkerson – Elder Don (Blue Note) Lou Donaldson – The Natural Soul (Blue Note) Don Wilkerson – Preach Brother! (Blue Note) 1963 Lou Donaldson – Good Gracious! (Blue Note) Jimmy Smith – I’m Movin’ On (Blue Note) Jimmy Smith – Special Guests (Blue Note Japan) Booker Ervin – Back from the Gig (Blue Note) Herbie Hancock – My Point of View (Blue Note) Herbie Hancock – The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions (Blue Note) Horace Parlan – Happy Frame of Mind (Blue Note) “Big” John Patton – Along Came John (Blue Note) Gloria Coleman/Pola Roberts – Soul Sisters (Impulse) Harold Vick – Steppin’ Out! (Blue Note) Harold Vick – Our Miss Brooks c/w Vicksville (Blue Note) “Big” John Patton – Blue John (Blue Note) Don Wilkerson – Shoutin’ (Blue Note) George Braith – Two Souls in One (Blue Note) Mary Lou Williams – Black Christ of the Andes (Saba/MPS) George Braith – Soul Stream (Blue Note) Bobby Hutcherson – The Kicker (Blue Note) 1964 Lee Morgan – Search for the New Land (Blue Note) George Braith – Extension (Blue Note) “Big” John Patton – The Way I Feel (Blue Note) Larry Young – Into Somethin’ (Blue Note) Donald Byrd – I’m Tryin’ to Get Home (Blue Note) 1965 Johnny Hodges/Wild Bill Davis – Joe’s Blues (Verve) Grassella Oliphant – The Grass Is Greener (Atlantic) “Big” John Patton – Oh, Baby! (Blue Note) Lou Donaldson – Musty Rusty (Cadet) Johnny Hodges/Wild Bill Davis – Wings and Things (Verve) “Big” John Patton – Let ‘Em Roll (Blue Note) 1966 George Braith – Laughing Souls (Prestige) “Big” John Patton – Got a Good Thing Goin’ (Blue Note) Art Blakey – Hold On, I’m Coming (Limelight) Stanley Turrentine – Rough ‘N Tumble (Blue Note) 1969 Rusty Bryant Returns (Prestige) Charles Kynard – The Soul Brotherhood (Prestige) Reuben Wilson – Love Bug (Blue Note) Don Patterson – Brother-4 (Prestige) Don Patterson – Donnybrook (Prestige) Don Patterson – Tune Up! (Prestige) 1970 Charles Kynard – Afro-Disiac (Prestige) Fats Theus – Black Out (CTI) Houston Person – Person to Person! (Prestige) 1973 Houston Person – The Real Thing (Eastbound) User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License and may also be available under the GNU FDL.

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