A Tribute to Grant Green

Various Artists

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A Tribute to Grant Green Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

In the '90s there were so many tributes to great blues and jazzmen that it's easy to balk when you see that the great guitarist Grant Green was given a tribute album on Evidence during the late '90s. After all, Green's talent was light, gentle, and elusive -- it was simple but elegant; many guitarists couldn't get that right and, theoretically, it would be painful to hear them try. That's why it's such a pleasant surprise that Evidence's salute is so successful. The reason it works is because it's anchored by drummer Idris Muhammad, who often worked with Green, and features Grant's son Greg on three tracks. Greg doesn't expand on his father's work on these three cuts, but he certainly keeps his tradition alive, as do the other featured guitarists, Peter Bernstein, Ed Cherry, Russell Malone, Dave Stryker, and Mark Whitfield. Even if they twist the material in subtle ways that Green wouldn't have done -- Whitfield is a little showy on "Green Jeans," for instance -- this is rooted in Green's classic Blue Note material and it sits nicely beside it. Perhaps it doesn't make for a listen filled with surprises, but it doesn't need to be, since it delivers the greatest surprise of all: a tribute worthy of the master.

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