Eddie Harris' trademark chops and versatility are well showcased on this respectable follow-up to Harris' excellent Atlantic debut, The In Sound. Mean Greens doesn't have a signature piece, like The In Sound's "Freedom Jazz Dance," but the program of mostly Harris originals is a satisfying set based around two groups: one with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Billy Higgins; the other with organist Sonny Philips, and Harris doubling on electric piano.
Walton's steady piano vamp and the flowing swagger of the tenor solo on the title track are suggestive of "Freedom Jazz Dance," but overall, the track is straight soul-jazz compared to the elongated, oddball melody of Harris' classic piece. The standard "It Was a Very Good Year" starts conventionally, but moves into a hard bop space, with nice work from the rhythm section, and an example of the leader's unusual altissimo range, which renders soprano sax sounds from Harris' tenor. In his early days, Harris made a point of learning the styles of tenor greats, from Coleman Hawkins to Stan Getz. On Mean Greens, this skill is evidenced in Harris' flawless evocation of Sonny Rollins, on the Rollins-esque calypso "Yeah Yeah Yeah."
The three blues-based grooves, with the double-keyboard attack of organist Phillips and Harris' Fender Rhodes, have a fresh, distinctive, flavor, as Phillips' B-3 and the leader's electric piano weave together some savory funk and blues.