Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Synchroncity of Benny Green's New Trio on his latest "Source"

Benny Green
Jazz Legacy Productions JLP 1001014
Recorded at Alley cat Productions, South Orange, NJ
November- December 2010

The jazz piano trio has traditionally been a wellspring for the creation of some expressive music over the years. Getting the perfect combination of band mates that can produce that illusive, magical something that can transcend time is sometimes like a chimera. 

Peter Washington

If one subscribes to the theory of synchronicity, than it was certainly a synchronous event when in 2009 Japanese guitarist Satoshi Inoue brought together pianist Benny Green with the superb rhythm section of 
Peter Washington and Kenny Washington for his Japanese tour. Despite having the same name these two unrelated musicians have a simpatico that transcends blood.
Kenny Washington

“Source”, is inspired by a litany of Green’s jazz heroes. They include Sonny Clark, Carl Perkins, Dizzy Gillepsie, Donald Byrd, Kenny Drew, Bud Powell, Benny Golson, Duke Pearson, Mel Torme and Horace Silver.  Despite the diversity of the source of the music, Green and company play it all with reverence, joy, virtuosity and heart. The result is one of the most enjoyable albums I have heard this year and a watershed for Green as a leader .

From the opening notes of Sonny Clark’s “Blue Minor" you know your in for a treat. Green has the “goods” and he swings with the best of them, with a looseness of style that reminds me a little of the great Hampton Hawes. Prodded by Peter Washington’s elastically buoyant bass lines, Benny demonstrates some rapid tandem, two-handed runs that gush with imagination. This one is a delight.
Sonny Clark

On West Coast pianist Carl Perkins 
“ Way ‘Cross Town” , Green negotiates the start/stop lines of this little gem and intertwines the breaks with some cascading solo lines as the team Washington keep impeccable time. Drummer Kenny offers some tasteful brushwork in a nice interlude of subtle restraint.

Mr. Green is at his most elegant on the poignant
“I Waited for You”. The trio saunters on the beat as Green dances along the keyboard in a sophisticated display of sensitive lyricism. Peter Washington’s bass solo is deeply articulate and expressive.
Donald Byrd
Trumpeter Donald Byrd’s “Little T” is a catchy vehicle to swing on and swing this trio does so well. Green is an effervescent pianist who digs deep into the marrow of a song to find different approaches to make it sing. The obvious love that that these guys have for this music is genuine. Witness the precise interaction and timely breaks, all part of a special intuition. 

Kenny Drew
“Cool Green”, a Kenny Drew composition, is a cool shuffle that allows Mr. Green to stretch out with some clipped, syncopated solo lines, followed by a series of beautifully executed rapid runs up and down the keyboard. Peter Washington offers his ever present, deceptively floating bass lines that hold it all together. When the bassists solos he swings with unerring time and expressiveness.

For those who love speed and virtuosity, Bud Powell’s “Tempus Fugit” is the piece de resistance. Green is a formidbile technician who flawlessly executes this most difficult composition with his own brand of  blinding two handed speed and a certain sense of humor. One can almost hear the trio take a collective sigh of relief at the successful conclusion of this barnburner.
Bud Powell

Benny’s father purportedly suggested he include the Benny Golson tune
“Park Avenue Petite” and kudos to the elder Mr. Green for this influence. Green is at one with the sentiment of this composition as his soulful, blues tinged solos attest beautifully. The rhythm section is in a tight groove allowing Mr. Green plenty of room for expression with subtle support.

On Duke Pearson’s  “Chant” we get a taste of the myriad of ideas that pop into Mr. Green’s head as he commits to his solo wanderings. While generally melodic he sometimes uses dashes of atonality to make a point. 
Duke Pearson

On Mel Torme’s “ Born to Be Blue” ,we get the feel that Mr. Green has spent many a night backing some real torch singers in his career. His phrasing is earnest and appropriately vocal-like as he states the melody. It’s during his solo that he explores the nuances of the song as he sees it.

On Horace Silver’s classic “Opus de Funk” is the finale and we hear the Trio get back to the business of swinging. Green’s excitable playing is full of energy and kineticism. Peter Washington’s bass pushes the song along ultimately taking his own facile solo. Mr. Green leads us all over the map with his abundance of ideas. He has an energetic interchange with the drummer Kenny Washington trading ideas on a series of breaks before making their way to the coda.

Horace Silver

For any lover of piano trio jazz or just plain swinging music, Benny Green’s “Source” makes a splendid addition to any serious collection of the genre.

Musicians: The Benny Green Trio:  Benny Green
(piano); Peter Washington ( bass); Kenny Washington (drums)

 Here's Benny with the great Ray Brown and Gregory Hutchinson on drums playing Blue Mood

1 comment:

  1. Ram - I really enjoyed your review and enjoyed the sound piece you supplied. It was a chimera of sorts to enjoy both the sounds and text at the same time. doc