Ike Quebec Blue & Sentimental (Blue Note 1961)

Ike Quebec’s resonant, breathy tone, deep as if coming from a velvet cave, is plainly irresistable. It’s in full bloom on Blue & Sentimental, one of Quebec’s 1961 comeback albums on Blue Note, a set of moving ballads and gutsy blues performances.

Ike Quebec - Blue & Sentimental


Ike Quebec (tenor saxophone, piano A2, A4), Grant Green (guitar), Sonny Clark (piano B3), Paul Chambers (bass), Sam Jones (bass B3) Philly Joe Jones (drums), Louis Hayes (drums B3)


on December 16 & 23, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as BLP 4098 in 1962

Track listing

Side A:
Blue And Sentimental
Minor Impulse
Don’t Take Your Love From Me
Blues For Charlie
Count Every Star

Quebec was a veteran of the swing era who recorded with Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Hot Lips Page, Trummy Young, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway. In the late forties, Quebec recorded for Blue Note while also serving as an arranger and talent scout, stimulating the careers of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell in the process. Both the decline of big bands and the struggle with a drug addiction kept Quebec under the radar in the fifties. At the end of the decade, Alfred Lion issued a series of Ike Quebec singles for the jukebox market, checking out if Quebec would gain audience attention after years of low visibility. The singles were well-received. Subsequently, the albums that Blue Note released in 1961 and ‘62, Heavy Soul, It Might As Well Be Spring, (with organist Freddie Roach) Blue & Sentimental and Bossa Nova Soul Samba (the latter with Kenny Burrell) were good sellers. Easy Living was released posthumously in 1987. Quebec’s comeback was cut short by lung cancer. He passed away in 1963.

Ike Quebec’s style is accesible but not plain, his sound imposing but not theatrical. A lusty mix of elegant phrasing and a tone with a slight vibrato that switches suavely from breathy whispers to solid honks. Ben Webster-ish, containing that same blend of tenderness and hot swing, with a whiff of romance borrowed from Coleman Hawkins. Do you ever put on Blue & Sentimental on a bright sunny morning? Of course not. It’s a full-blooded after-midnight album. Can’t you see yourself sunk into a battered old chesterfield chair with a 10 year-old single malt and Hajenius cigar in hand? Smoke billows upwards to the ceiling. Ponderings of the incompatible natures of Venus and Mars billow upwards to the ceiling as well, as Quebec delivers an achingly romantic version of Don’t Take Your Love From Me. The demons of a grinding working day and a general mood of nausea are driven out by the lithe, jumpin’ blues of Minor Impulse. Can’t you see? Well, I can. Battered Old Chesterfield is my middle name.

As far as ballads go, they rarely come as smoky as Blue & Sentimental. Quebec’s husky tenor carries the tune, with just the right punch to add steam. Guitarist Grant Green, finishing his first – prolific – year at Blue Note headquarters, is a perfect companion to Quebec’s warm-blooded blowing. Just slightly dragging the beat with his fat-toned, sustained Gibson licks and spicy excursions into bluesland, Green’s balladry is delightful. On the faster tunes, Green’s propulsive lines sparkle. Chambers and Philly Joe Jones also comprise an outstanding match with the veteran tenorist. No need to introduce Mr. PC. From his magnificent, allround package, Chambers chooses tasteful, chubby, blues-drenched notes for the ballads and fat-bottomed, lively walkin’ bass lines for the uptempo tunes. Philly Joe Jones provides sensitive and sprightly support, presenting a bonafide Papa Jo Jones beat in Quebec’s original tune, the lurid cooker Like.

The album ends with Count Every Star, a take from the December 23 session including Green, Sonny Clark, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. Excellent stuff, but one wonders why Alfred Lion thought the inclusion necessary. The CD re-issue (also available on Spotify) reveals a spirited uptempo take of Cole Porter’s That Old Black Magic. Another sparse, piano-less gem that shows the fine rapport between the underrated master of the tenor saxophone and his illustrious supporting crew.

Sam Lazar Space Flight (Argo 1960)

Very little is known of organist Sam Lazar’s life. The liner notes of his early sixties Argo releases represent about the only information available. He hailed from St. Louis and played piano in the groups of Ernie Wilkins and Tab Smith, when a gig he attented of modern organ jazz progenitor Jimmy Smith inspired him to take up the Hammond B3.

Sam Lazar - Space Flight


Sam Lazar (organ), Grant Green (guitar), Willie Dixon (bass), Chauncey Williams (drums)


on June 1, 1960 at Ter-Mar Studio, Chicago


in 1960 as Argo 4002

Track listing

Side A:
Dig A Little Deeper
We Don’t Know
Gigi Blues
Side B:
Space Flight
Mad Lad
Funky Blues
Big Willie
My Babe

Liner note writer of Lazar’s Argo debut Space Flight, DJ E. Rodney Jones, praises Lazar as ‘the best organist now playing jazz’, which is goofy, considering his mention of master Jimmy Smith. Biased or perhaps intent on sales, Jones ignores the facts that Wild Bill Davis was generally acknowledged as a pioneer of pre-modern organ jazz and that the start of the sixties brought a batch of top notch, tasteful players such as Shirley Scott and Jimmy McGriff, who were more advanced than Lazar.

It’s not a put-down of Jones, who was an important black radio pioneer. It’s just to be taken with a grain of salt. And though Lazar may not be part of the Hammond major league, he deserves his place in organ jazz history. Of his three Argo releases – the other ones being Playback and Soul MerchantSpace Flight is the most alluring, containing snappy, unpolished r&b-type tunes and furthermore, remaining relevant for including fellow St. Louis musician Grant Green, the unsung hero of modern jazz guitar.

Space Flight was Green’s second recording. (following Jimmy Forrest’s All The Gin Is Gone of December 1, 1959) Green was part of Lazar’s working band. Just a while later alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson would introduce Green to Alfred Lion and Green’s Blue Note and New York career would be underway. A little research proves my point that, in contrast to general opinion, the late fifties 45rpm single that the tiny label Cawthorne released of Sam Lazar, Space Flight part 1/part 2, was Green’s recording debut instead of the Jimmy Forrest album. (Space Flight part 2, by the way, is represented on the album titled Big Willie)

Green delivers a series of fleet, blues-drenched solo’s, that make it easy to imagine why he was already making such an impression on fellow musicians. The flagwaver Gigi Blues, Mad Lad and the heavily shufflin’ title track are cases in point.

The line-up also includes blues icon and bassist Willie Dixon, which also explains the overriding blues atmosphere of Space Flight. The group plays Dixon’s classic My Baby.

Argo was a subsidiary of Chess Records, Phil and Leonard Chess’ legendary Chicago label that trusted heavily on Dixon’s input. The overall sound of the session is pretty distorted, not unlike that of the era’s Chicago blues music. The kind of raucous music that grew out of and boosted black neighbourhood life. Grant Green’s sophisticated playing style contrasts well with the straight-laced surroundings.

Lazar puts in a couple of solo’s that sound-wise place him in the realm of swing rather than modern jazz. Style-wise, Lazar shows some signs of modernity, particularly in the album’s highlight, the dynamic and fleetly phrased Mad Lad.

However, generally Sam Lazar’s playing style stayed close to the blues, as Space Flight proves convincingly.

Don Wilkerson Shoutin’ (Blue Note 1963)

For his third and final release on Blue Note, tenor saxophonist Don Wilkerson teamed up with a cookin’ crew that suits his style to a T. His debut on Riverside in 1960, The Texas Twister, hadn’t quite fulfilled his potential. His Blue Note-sessions were elevating and more successful. Shoutin’ maintains the enamouring blend of r&b and jazz of his previous Blue Note recordings, Elder Don and Preach Brother!. Not in the possession of a big sound, Wilkerson instead relies on a lilting tone and uplifting, bouncy phrases.

Don Wilkerson - Shoutin'


Don Wilkerson (tenor saxophone), John Patton (organ), Grant Green (guitar), Ben Dixon (drums)


on July 29, 1963 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as BLP 4145 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Movin’ Out
Cookin’ With Clarence
Easy Living
Side B:
Happy Johnny
Blues For J
Sweet Cake

Wilkerson was born in Louisiana and had spent a big part of his life in Texas. He played with rhythm and blues artists Amos Milburn and Charles Brown, as well as jazz luminaries Sonny Clark, Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray. He was part of the early Ray Charles band and functioned as featured soloist on classic hits such as I Got A Woman and Halleluja I Love Her So. So Wilkerson gained a bag of priceless experience.

It isn’t hard to imagine what those men presumably liked in Wilkerson. His alluring tone and candid delivery are at the heart of the medium-tempo Movin’ Out. Coincidentally, it has the structure and bounce of the early Ray Charles tunes; and their fresh elan as well. Wilkerson also displays subtle swing, which he employs to great effect in the ‘breathy’ ballad Easy Living. In it, the influence on Wilkerson’s style that shines through most prominently is that of Paul Gonsalves.

Cookin’ With Clarence is an example of this group’s solid interplay. These men share a lot of r&b experience. John Patton and Ben Dixon both had been part of Lloyd Price’s popular rhythm & blues orchestra. Grant Green played r&b and blues during the early part of his career in St. Louis, notably with Jimmy Forrest. The tune is an uptempo showcase for all involved, stimulated considerably by the climactic sections at the end of the ensemble choruses, that catapult the soloists into action. Don Wilkerson is swift as a rattlesnake. Grant Green is a spirited presence. His phrasing is fluent and his strumming confident and aggressive. John Patton’s lines are crunchy and fiery, inspired by the unisono background figures of Wilkerson and Green. Meanwhile, Ben Dixon’s probing rolls and cymbal crashes stoke up the fire. Both Movin’ Out and Cookin’ With Clarence are Wilkerson originals.

The modal-type tune Happy Johnny is also a Wilkerson composition. The variation in Wilkerson’s solo is more on the rhythmic than melodic side. Blues For J is a slow blues of the afterhours-kind, relaxed but driving. Sweet Cake, a tune from Wilkerson’s Louisiana friend Edward Frank, is a shuffle that strolls along nicely and includes a dynamic John Patton solo.

Wilkerson would continue to perform in the r&b field in the sixties and seventies. There are few, if any, players like Wilkerson today. The type of musician in the mixed zone of r&b and jazz, that matured after traveling the route of the chitlin’ circuit: the black neighbourhood music scene of local bars and small clubs. Nowadays those kind of musical breeding grounds are largely non-existent. Hence the virtual absence of contemporary saxophonists in the straighforward but sophisticated vein. Therefore, Shoutin’, is an example of a bygone era. It may be history, but it sounds lively as hell.

Reuben Wilson Love Bug (Blue Note 1969)

Basically, the artistic success of a jazz album dedicated to pop and funk music depends on the quality of the musicians and the way they interact. In this respect, organist Reuben Wilson and the heavy-weight crew he assembled for Love Bug in March 1969, presented a cum laude performance. It’s neither glib nor pretentious, but an allround groove album.



Reuben Wilson (organ), Lee Morgan (trumpet), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Grant Green (guitar), Idris Muhammad (drums)


on March 21, 1969 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as BST 84317 in 1969

Track listing

Side A
Hot rod
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
I Say A Little Prayer
Side B
Love Bug
Back Out

Wilson’s debut for Blue Note half a year earlier, On Broadway, contained a mix of soul and tin pan alley. Follow-up Love Bug, including three long groove cuts and a danceable rendition of I Say A Little Prayer, puts the emphasis on pop and funk. In an interview in her book Grant Green: Rediscovering The Forgotten Genius Of Jazz Guitar, Sharon Andrews Green, the biography writer of guitarist Grant Green, Wilson said:

“See, I came up with this idea of playing pop music with jazz. I didn’t think they should be limited. In a lot of ways it had already been done, but not necessarily given the appreciation. They used a lot of jazz musicians in Motown. They were background players. So instead of having them in the background, it was just a matter of bringing them to the foreground. When I went to Grant with these things I wanted to do, he was just ecstatic. He was like: ‘Yeah, man. Let’s go. This is hip. Come on, Ru, let’s do this thing.’

At which time the established team of sidemen came into the picture. Playing with the famous Lee Morgan and crew was a big deal for the organist, but Wilson is composed and authoritative. The way he embellishes the extra slow boogaloo Hot Rod with meandering phrases suggests a mind that’s intent on both logic and understated emotion. Sound-wise, Wilson is almost indistinguisable from fellow organist Lonnie Smith. As if Wilson borrowed his organ; the register and pitch are alike. His phrasing, however, is less flamboyant, more introverted. A minor complaint about Hot Rod: one could do without the drum solo near the end.

Otherwise, the bass-heavy back beat of Idris Muhammad is key to the irresistable charm of Love Bug. It’s there on the title track; an uptempo, sharp-as-a-tack threesome of snare, bass and hi-hat that puts you smack, dab, in the middle of a soulful groove and stimulates Wilson, Green, Coleman and Morgan to put their best foot forward. And on Back Out as well. It has a beat that resembles the beat of Spinning Wheel, the 1968 hit from Blood, Sweat & Tears. At the time, Blood, Sweat & Tears’ combination of jazz and rock raised quite a few eyebrows in the jazz community and led to a number of hot debates about the state of jazz in periodicals such as Downbeat Magazine. Apart from this, the beat that Wilson and Muhammad incorporated is effective and swinging.

Grant Green had interpreted some pop tunes on mid-sixties Blue Note albums, but the territory of funk, which he had been preoccupated with as a listener for some time, was fresh ground. After a troubling period wherein Green had disappeared out of the limelight, because of both a drug problem and a disappointment in the music business, Green sounds invigorated. Love Bug would stimulate Green to boost his career by delving deeper into funk, starting with Carryin’ On in October, 1969. Love Bug and Carryin’ On brought Green back into the Blue Note family. George Coleman is in particularly fine form; his playing is in the possession of both gutbucket feeling and complexity.

Reuben Wilson’s pop covers on Love Bug contain tight ensemble work and a lithe feeling. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me – a Gamble & Huff composition that was a hit for Dee Dee Warwick in 1966 and a smash hit in 1968 for the combination Supremes/Temptations – has a natural, irresistable flow. The laid-back comping of Wilson and smart combination of chords and strummed bass parts by Grant Green blends well together. George Coleman takes a lyrical, vocalised solo. Lee Morgan delivers a far from pedestrian bit, but his mind seems to be elsewhere and there are some bum notes. On the whole album, George Coleman is in better form than Morgan.

Burt Bacharach’s I Say A Little Prayer has a sunny feeling and bouncy vibe. It cooks with ease and boasts delicate phrases by Grant Green and understated, yet spirited statements by Reuben Wilson Stormy, a Classics IV hit from 1969, gets a nice Latin treatment.

Love Bug contains three deft and danceable excursions into the pop realm and three cookin’ funk originals by Reuben Wilson. It is proof organ jazz, as performed by the talented and knowledgable, was smart and groovy at the same time.

Grant Green Grant’s First Stand (Blue Note 1961)

By January, 1961, when Grant Green’s debut as a leader Grant’s First Stand was released, Green was 26 years old and already a seasoned player. His debut is confident and chock full of suave blues.

Grant Green - Grant's First Stand


Grant Green (guitar), Baby Face Willette (organ), Ben Dixon (drums)


on January 28, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as BLP 4064 in 1961

Track listing

Side A:
Miss Ann’s Tempo
Lullaby Of The Leaves
Blues For Willareen
Side B:
Baby’s Minor Lope
’Tain’t Nobody’s Bizniss If I Do
A Wee Bit O’Green

Some colleagues and friends from the guitarist’s hometown, St. Louis, have said that before the time alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson secured him a deal at New York’s Blue Note headquarters in 1960, Green’s unique style was already intact. Musicians who traveled through the jazz and r&b-friendly East St. Louis also were enamoured of Green’s approach. Said drummer Al Harewood: “(…) before he got there, the club was packed. So Grant must have been doing something right. Oh, boy, it was swinging, swinging, swinging. He was fresh. (…) It was like a revival meeting. They well appreciated him, too. So did the fellas in New York, once they heard him.

But was Green’s style really already fully-formed? Well, almost. It was mature, soulful, had a unique ring to it. But Green’s playing certainly underwent a few changes in the sixties. Playing in a variety of settings, with a roster of world-class young (and some older) lions, inspired Green to reach beyond his basic style in straight ahead as well as modal hard bop. Generally unbeatable and highly inventive, this period included career heights as Grandstand and Idle Moments. His funk period from the late sixties represented a direction into deep grooves and more percussive phrasing.

What they meant was that the core of Green’s style remained the same, whether the guitarist tackled gospel, Latin, modern jazz or blues music. Green’s unique assets are a lucid and round tone, fiery approach, melodic elan and abundant blues feeling. What those people who knew or met Green meant, was that Green was a man of the blues. Green felt very comfortable within the organ combo genre and made many fine recordings in it. After Green’s debut and initial side dates Green would become the most prolific musician in the Blue Note roster up to 1965. By 1962 Green had earned Downbeat Magazine’s New Star victory in the guitar category.

The trio of Grant’s First Stand had a nice rapport. It had worked together on Lou Donaldson’s Here ‘Tis a week earlier and would re-unite for Baby Face Willette’s debut as a leader, Face To Face, two days later. Not surprisingly, the three albums bear the mark and feeling of live r&b. Perhaps Grant’s First Stand is the most blues-drenched of the threesome.

Miss Ann’s Tempo is an example of excellent trio work. The playful theme of ascending and descending notes stated by Green is supported well through answering chords by Willette and effective cymbal and tom work by Ben Dixon. Green’s solo has a natural flow and logical structure. Baby Face Willette’s statements consist of probing, funky lines and poignant, short notes stabbed at the keyboard with the infectious joy of a bird let loose from his cage.

In building the solo of Baby’s Minor Lope – as the title states and suggests, a minor key blues that runs steadily on – Green uses his trademark sustained tremelos that work as a breath of fresh air before traveling on vigorously. In between the beforementioned and other like-minded mid to uptempo tunes are two slow blues songs. One of the most popular and recorded blues standards, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, has a solid but a bit subdued Green solo. It might’ve something to do with Baby Face Willette, who burns through an in-your-face solo that is hard to surpass. Wee Bit O’Green fares better. The slight change of beat creates a loose and down-home atmosphere Green relishes.

After Green’s debut, there would be no question of a ‘Wee Bit O’Green”. ‘A Whole Lot O’Green” is more appropriate. In 1961 alone, Green would not only appear as leader or sideman on a staggering number of seventeen (including five posthumously released) Blue Note recordings, but also record as a sideman for Jazztime, Jazzland and Prestige.

Baby Face Willette Face To Face (Blue Note 1961)

It was a busy week for organist Baby Face Willette, the last week of January, 1961. In fact, the three sessions Willette was involved in – sessions for Lou Donaldson and Grant Green and the leadership date of Face to Face – account for half of the organist’s discography. One may conclude Willette is something of a footnote in jazz history. As his best album, Face To Face, however, proofs footnotes usually don’t come that exciting.



Baby Face Willette (organ), Fred Jackson (tenor saxophone), Grant Green (guitar), Ben Dixon (drums)


on January 30, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ


as BST 84068 in 1961

Track listing

Side A:
Swingin’ At Sugar Ray’s
Goin’ Down
Whatever Lola Wants
Side B:
Face To Face
Something Strange
High ‘N’ Low

Lou Donaldson certainly was of that opinion. In reference to the session for Donaldson’s Here ’Tis, the popular alto saxophonist is quoted as saying (he also mentioned accompanists Grant Green and drummer Ben Dixon): “These guys have all played a lot of rhythm and blues and they know what it’s about.” Lou Donaldson brought Grant Green to the attention of Blue Note’s Alfred Lion in 1960. Green was steeped in r&b and influenced by Charlie Christian. Together they met Willette in New York. Before turning to jazz, Willette had worked in a variety of r&b settings. Tenor saxophonist Fred Jackson worked with Little Richard, B.B. King and had been part of r&b-singer Lloyd Price’s outfit. Drummer Ben Dixon also played in that group.

Here ’Tis stems from January 23, Grant Green’s Grant’s First Stand (also including Ben Dixon) was recorded on January 28 and the Face To Face-session took place on January 30. It indeed is about the blues or has a blues-based format. Willette penned five catchy originals. Willette’s edgy sound, a combination of a plucky percussion-setting and slight vibrato, is mesmerising. Style-wise Willette uses a number of tricks from Jimmy Smith’s bag. Putting heat into a solo, stretching over bars by way of a suspended left hand chord and freewheeling right hand, is one of them. He uses it in Whatever Lola Wants and Swingin’ At Sugar Ray’s. The latter is a sassy tune on which Grant Green gets into the picture with some trademark, throat-grabbing blues licks. His sound is unusually distorted on this tune, which unfortunately draws the attention away from the rest of his statements.

Willette does a great job of avoiding blues clichés. His lines are jumpy and fresh. Rarely at a dead end, one can hear the pleasure Willette takes in putting something surprising and funky in each new chorus. Willette carefully builds momentum on the slow, down & dirty blues Goin’ Down. Tenor saxophonist Fred Jackson delivers a juicy and humorous piece of rock ‘n’ jazz. His solo is lively, direct and consists of long wails that alternate with short, breathy puffs, valve effects and speedy, big-toned figures that bear the mark of Coleman Hawkins and Gene Ammons.

The title track, Face To Face, is an uptempo, stop-time tune cleanly executed by the rhythm section. (including the bass Willette provides) Ben Dixon lays down a driving shuffle in the middle section that finds all soloists in fine form. Whatever Lola Wants is the only non-Willette composition. It has a very danceable, exotic rhythm. Willette cooks, Jackson variates nicely on the theme; the element of surprise inherent in Jackson’s work is a strong asset of Face To Face. Green doesn’t really break out of his routine phrasing. Clearly, on Whatever Lola Wants, Fred Jackson’s got the better of him.

The album ends on a satisfying note. Something Strange and High ‘N’ Low aren’t standout tracks, but fine blues cuts. In the second part of his recording career – the 1964 albums Behind The 8-Ball and Mo-Roc for the Argo label – gospel and Carribean themes were highlighted more than on his Blue Note recordings. The albums show a full-grown identity and have their moments, but are inferior to Face To Face. They lack drive and the abilities of the high-quality personel that was present on Face To Face and his other Blue Note recording from 1961, Stop And Listen.

The liner notes of Face To Face refer to the wanderlust that had been characteristic of Willette’s personality ever since he was a kid. This penchant for traveling also accounted for his occasional disappearance from the scene and obscurity from the public eye after 1964. Ultimately, failing health led to his decease in 1971. Could Willette have been a new organ star contending with Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff? No doubt. Baby Face Willette had the chops, and the looks. Face To Face was a promising start. It, however, was also very short to the finish.

Grant Green Street Of Dreams (Blue Note 1964)

I can’t get enough of Grant Green’s opening tune I Wish You Love from the guitarist’s mid-career album Street Of Dreams. It’s the epitome of Green’s ethereal qualities and works on an emotionally soothing level only true masters can bring about.

Grant Green - Street Of Dreams


Grant Green (guitar), Larry Young (organ), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Elvin Jones (drums)


on November 16, 1964 at Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as BLP 4253 in 1965

Track listing

Side A:
I Wish You Love
Lazy Afternoon
Side B:
Street Of Dreams
Somewhere In The Night

Mid-career? Indeed, I define the album as such. Although Green recorded until his death in 1979, it’s fair to say that the seventies were disappointing for Green and that the relevant part of his career runs from his start in 1960 to the beginning of the following decade. Moreover, Green practically lived in the studio in the early sixties, mostly as solo and staff guitarist for Blue Note. Nobody did so much sessions for the famous label as Green, and certainly not between 1960 and 1965. Hence said stipulation that Street Of Dreams is a mid-career effort.

During that period, Green had struck up a fruitful recording relationship with organist Larry Young and drummer Elvin Jones. Elvin Jones is on a string of Grant Green albums, among them Matador. Naturally, Jones took part in recording Larry Young’s masterpiece Unity. The trio furthermore cooperate on a couple of ace Blue Note albums: Grant Green’s Talkin’ About and I Want To Hold Your Hand and Larry Young’s Into Something.

Street Of Dreams certainly is an ace album as well and evidence of how well the famed members of this group – augmented to a quartet by vibrafonist Bobby Hutcherson, who played on essential Green album Idle Moments – respond to eachother. Street Of Dreams and Somewhere In The Night are easygoing swingers including fluid solo’s by Green and Young, but the standout tracks are to be found on side A. Lazy Afternoon is a slow, mellow standard which charm lies in the combination between its harmonic subtleties and Green’s blues-infused playing style.

Both Lazy Afternoon and I Wish You Love benefit from the polyrhythmic finesse and tension-building of one-man band Elvin Jones, Larry Young’s economical, full-bodied backing and adventurous phrases and Hutcherson’s moody embellishments. In front of this crackerjack trio, Grant Green reaches bittersweet heights in I Wish You Love, which originally was a chanson from French singer Charles Trenet. There is so much to enjoy: a deceptively simple, patiently executed, beautiful melody and a memorable solo that constitutes nearly five minutes of sheer beauty. Then there’s that delicious sustain of Green’s Gibson guitar that must surely do an ‘embraceable you’ to you too. Green’s stately delivery of I Wish You Love never fails to bring me into a sweet and sour, ephemereal state of mind.

Street Of Dreams is a carefully constructed affair. From the front cover – an apt picture and illustration by Reid Miles of the intersection Grant Avenue & Green Street in San Francisco – via repertoire and titles to Green’s performance, it’s obvious that the album’s target is a soft spot in the heart. It certainly hits home. As one of many top class albums in Green’s book, I think Street Of Dreams will satisfy jazz fans that are charmed by the guitarist’s better known Idle Moments.