|GRANT GREEN - BIOGRAPHY||
Grant Green was born in St. Louis on June 6, 1931, 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 until he moved to New York in 1960 at the suggestion of Lou 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 and roll. Itís all blues, anyhow."
His extensive foundation in R&B combined with a mastery of bebop and simplicity that put expressiveness ahead of technical expertise. Grant Green was a superb blues interpreter, and his later material was predominantly blues and R&B, though 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 played in the '50s with Jimmy Forrest, Harry Edison and Lou Donaldson.
He also collaborated with many organists, among them Brother Jack McDuff, Sam Lazar, Baby Face Willette, Gloria Coleman, Big John Patton and Larry Young. During the early '60s, both his fluid, tasteful playing in organ/guitar/drum combos and his other dates for Blue Note established Grant Green as a star, though he seldom got the critical respect given other players. He was off the scene for a bit in the mid-'60s, but came back strong in the late '60s and '70s. Grant 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. Grant 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.
A severely underrated player during his lifetime, Grant Grant Green is one of the great unsung heroes of jazz guitar. Like Stanley Turrentine, he tends to be left out of the books. Although he mentions Charlie Christian and Jimmy Raney as influences, Grant 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 Grant Greenís playing, and his technique is always at the service of his music. And it is music, plain and simple, that makes Grant Green unique.
Grant Greenís playing is immediately recognizable -- perhaps more than any other guitarist. Grant 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 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 Grant Green albums plus unissued tracks. Some of the finest examples of Grant Greenís work can be found there.