GRANT GREEN Solid (Music Matters)

So (stereo)typically a Blue Note album is this that it’s a puzzler that this 1964 session lay unreleased until after the guitarist’s premature death in 1979. Backed by a cracking band that includes Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, the playing is impeccable and the fine material exactly the kind of knotty hard bop associated with the label. The highlight is undoubtedly a kinetic version of Henderson composition “The Kicker”, later popularised by Horace Silver on his “Song For My Father” album. Elvin turns in a particularly notable solo during “Ezz-Thetic”, conjuring a full-frequency barrage from his kit that doesn’t let up in intensity for a second. Green never imposes a leader’s personality on proceedings; he’s an ensemble player here throughout. 

The somewhat uncharitable sleevenotes are also surprising under the circumstances, proclaiming that “his recorded output for the last decade or more of his life was, for the most part, commercially uncreative and lacking in individuality”. There’s some grim ironic payback  in that one of the albums the cover lists under “other Blue Note albums by Grant Green you will enjoy”, “The Final Comedown”, was recorded during that disparaged decade.

Music Matters have weaved their customary magic on this reissue. A glossy, thick cardboard sleeve carries evocative session photos across its gatefold, and the music is spread over two 45 rpm discs for maximum sonic oomph. Also, as a rare limited edition that’s actually limited, to 2,500 copies in this case, it could even turn out to be an investment opportunity about as safe as any such thing is nowadays.