Benny Green

Green's Blues

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Green's first-ever fully unaccompanied outing is a knockout -- not a conceptual revolution by any means, but a stylistic triumph and an all-around good time. Like Marcus Roberts, Green is a latter-day master of stride piano, and right off the bat he wows listeners with his skills on "I've Heard That Song Before" and "I Wish You Love" before quieting down with "Someone to Watch Over Me." Green's playing spills over with adventurous, perfectly resolved phrases, crystalline melodies, and controlled dissonance, not to mention a tremendous amount of human spirit. Sticking to standard repertoire (with the exception of the original title track), Green also rummages through other old songs like "Just You, Just Me," "Misty," and "Ain't Misbehavin'," effortlessly creating beauty as he goes. He closes with two Ellington classics, "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "I Got It Bad"; the former is interpolated with Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" and tagged with a variation on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time."

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