Grant Green, Grantstand

Grant Green Grantstand (Blue Note 1961)

Grantstand ranks among guitarist Grant Green’s finest dates. A gathering of aroused spirits in Rudy van Gelder’s famed Englewood Cliffs studio.

Grant Green, Grantstand

Personnel

Grant Green (guitar), Yusef Lateef (tenor saxophone A1, B1, B2, flute A2), Brother Jack McDuff (organ), Ben Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums)

Recorded

on August 1, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 4086 in 1962

Track listing

Side A:
Grantstand
My Funny Valentine
Side B:
Blues In Maude’s Flat
Old Folks


Green, the most prolific Blue Note artist of the early and mid-sixties, was just shy of his second year as a new guitar man on the NYC block. He was in great company. Tenor saxophonist and multi-horn player Yusef Lateef would join Cannonball Adderley’s group in late december of 1961, staying till 1964. Green is further assisted by organist Brother Jack McDuff, the second time they cooperated, the first being McDuff’s The Honeydripper, recorded half a year earlier on February 1 on Prestige. Drummer Al Harewood was regularly featured on straightforward Blue Note recordings, notably as a member of the in-house trio Us Three which further consisted of pianist Horace Parlan and bassist George Tucker.

Good vibrations. Sparkling shreds of fire shooting upwards, curling around the beams of the RVG Studio’s high-domed, temple-like ceiling. A set of smokin’ blues tunes alternated with a melancholy ballad and a sprightly standard. Wrap it in shiny paper, lace it up and send it to your closest jazz pal with best wishes. Grantstand, the title track, bubbles, sizzles like a copious amount of ribs on a Saturday night BBQ. Hungry men. They tackle the uptempo, catchy blues riff like wolves jumping the lamb. The band catapults Green into action and stimulates the blues-drenched, former St. Louis citizen to fire off razor-sharp lines, adding slightly slurred, repeated phrases for dramatic effect. Green provides crunchy chords and plucky bass lines behind Yusef Lateef, who excels with a relaxed, down-home and layered tale, the chapters are recited without hurry, slowly but surely gathering momentum.

And the sound of these guys! Green: sustained, shimmering, fluid gold. Lateef: resonant, full-bodied, grandaddy-puffs-on-a-cigar-sound. McDuff chimes in with the roar of the minister, spitting a sermon into the faces of the flabbergasted flock. Intriguingly, McDuff succeeds to marry the gospel with the spirit of pure-bred rock&roll.

A bouncy version of Old Folks and a classy take on My Funny Valentine add variety to Green’s repertory, while Blues For Maude’s Flat continues the dip into bluesland. After hours vibes. The juices are flowing, the bottle of moonshine’s nearly empty. It could very well be that Green, Lateef, and McDuff arrived in New Jersey fresh from a gig in one of those dingy clubs the giants of jazz made their money in back then, like Chicago’s Theresa’s Lounge, Newark’s Front Room or Lennie’s On The Turnpike in Peabody, Massachussets. Blues In Maude’s Flat is a slow walk with a canny intermezzo of tension and release that serves as a springing board for the vibrant bunch of Lateef, Green and McDuff. Tenor/organ combo stuff of the grittiest and highest order, with the propulsive, already very authoritative leader on top of his game.

Paul Chambers - 1st Bassman

Paul Chambers 1st Bassman (Vee-Jay 1960)

It’s not so unusual that Paul Chambers, one of the foremost bass players of modern jazz, made a string of five solo albums between 1956 and ’60. It is unusual, considering Chambers’ standing and the dawning of an equally promising next decade, that 1st Bassman is his last. Another distinctive feature of 1st Bassman is that Yusef Lateef wrote all of the tunes of this enjoyable blowing session, with the exception of a Cannonball Adderley blues, Who’s Blues. Lateef displays unique horn chops as well.

Paul Chambers - 1st Bassman

Personnel

Paul Chambers (bass), Yusef Lateef (tenor sax), Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Wynton Kelly (piano), Lex Humphries (drums)

Recorded

on May 12, 1960 at Bell Sound Studios, NYC

Released

as VJLP 3012 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Melody
Bass Region
Side B:
Retrogress
Mopp Shoe Blues
Blessed


The session contains an interesting line-up. Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly made up an elite rhythm unit with drummer Jimmy Cobb, that recorded with John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery. Yusef Lateef was in between his formative years as a recording artist and the period wherein he started to incorporate Eastern influences into his style and had a great stint in The Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Drummer Lex Humphries recorded two albums with Lateef during the 1st Bassman-period. Curtis Fuller had been making a name for himself as an astute and soulful trombonist. Trumpeter Tommy Turrentine, finally, had just left Max Roach’s group, where he’d followed in the footsteps of the legendary Clifford Brown.

Not only the line-up is an asset, the impressive drive of Chambers’ walkin’ bass and his outstanding solo abilities contribute to the relevance of this album as well. Lateef graces many tunes with simultanuously idiosyncratic and bluesy tenor and Turrentine’s trumpet style works well within the loose proceedings. However, the straightforward vehicles for blowing in four/four time that Lateef wrote, do tend to get tiresome. Mainly, they’re started off with intricate bass figures and thereafter possess intelligent bass interludes from Chambers and extended horn and piano solos. Ballad Blessed is the black sheep among the herd, containing bowed bass and the muted, lyrical trumpet style of Tommy Turrentine.

Paul Chambers, as is well documented, contributed to a stunning amount of recordings, among them many legendary albums. To name but a few: John Coltrane’s Blue Train and Giant Steps, Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners, Sonny Clark’s Cool Struttin’, Oliver Nelson’s The Blues And The Abstract Truth, Lee Morgan’s Leeway, Miles Davis’ Milestones and Kind of Blue, Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness and Hank Mobley’s Workout. Being in constant demand probably prevented Chambers from recording more solo albums from 1960 to his untimely passing in 1969. 1st Bassman doesn’t rank among his prime performances, but it still is well above average.