Mellow Madness is the leadoff volume in Blue Note's Original Jam Masters Series compilation series that thematically focuses on guitarist Grant Green's late period with the label, from 1969 to 1972. Unlike the proceeding two discs, Mellow Madness is a more textured soul-jazz record. Its tunes comes from the same discs as on the latter volumes, but as "Cease the Bombing" by Neal Creque suggests, the spacious side of groove is what's highlighted here. Drummer Idris Muhammad, bassist Jimmy Lewis, and vibist Willie Bivins all shine on this laid-back shimmering beauty. And Green, in uncharacteristically laid-back fashion, makes every note count. Likewise, an 11-minute version of Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," from Grant's Alive! album, takes its time gathering steam and enlists tenorman Claude Bartee, Jr., organist Ronnie Foster and conguero Joseph Armstrong. But it is the set's closer, a stunning take on Donald Byrd's "Fancy Free" with bassist Wilton Felder, percussion master Hall Bobby Porter, and vibist Gary Coleman that sends it off with authority. Green's loping lead solo takes its time unfurling its knotty labyrinth while never leaving the groove. As other layers enter and leave, he caps, tags, underscores and extends every other solo in the mix. For the money, this is a great way to re-evaluate the guitarist's mature years.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek