Grant Green: Born To Be Blue

The guitarist's 1962 set with Ike Quebec possibly reached perfection on Someday My Prince. Here it comes again, on vinyl with extra tracks

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This album – first released in 1985 (but with only four tracks) was actually recorded in 1962 with a remaining seven tracks kept in the vaults along with 11 other of Green’s albums for the label. It is now widely regarded as the best of Green’s Blue Note sessions.

In the company of kindred spirits, most notably Ike Quebec – and also up and coming pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes – Grant is in superlative form. This new “heavyweight” vinyl version offers superior sound, the inclusion of Parker’s composition Cool Blues, and an alternate take of Mel Tormé’s Born To Be Blue.

Things open with an uptempo Someday My Prince Will Come, with a fleet-fingered Green solo followed by a hard-swinging and authoritative Quebec and a sparkling Clark. Grant then returns with another super-charged single-note chorus before returning to the main theme in unison with Quebec. In a word: perfection.

Both versions of Born To Be Blue begin as slow ballads before Ike delivers a Ben Webster-like breathy solo. If I Should Lose You maintains a gentle pace with Grant stating the melody before fashioning a delicate solo. Back In Your Own Backyard, the longest track (associated with Billie Holiday), gets off to a sprightly start with Quebec and Green matching each other in dexterity and inventiveness, before Ike delivers a master class in swing improvisation. Clark tones things down before Ike and Grant trade phrases with propulsive support from Jones and Hayes.

My One And Only Love receives a wistful interpretation from both principals, while Count Every Star has a suitably nocturnal ambience. Bird’s Cool Blues has an extended workout with all participants gainfully employed. In an earthy solo, Ike evokes shades of Lockjaw Davis, while Grant playfully decorates the familiar melody.

With the original lucid liner notes by Richard Seidel (but without a comment on Cool Blues), this latest reincarnation of a hugely enjoyable session is, in an Ellington aphorism, simply jazz “beyond category”.

Discography
Someday My Prince Will Come; Born To Be Blue; If I Should Lose You; Cool Blues (25.30) – Back In Your Own Back Yard; My One And Only Love; Count Every Star; Born To Be Blue (25.00)
Green (elg); Ike Quebec (ts); Sonny Clark (p); Sam Jones (b); Louis Hayes (d). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1 March 1962.
WaxTime 772340