I rarely review albums with Jazz guitarists as the primary instrument. No specific reasons just when I look at my reviews there seems to be a lack of albums featuring guitar. So today I decided to review Idle Moments by Grant Green. This album is one I purchased long ago and for some reason just haven’t really listened to. Not sure why that is, but I’m glad I discovered it now. The group is just killer with pianist Duke Pearson on piano, Green on guitar, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Joe Henderson on sax, and Al Harewood on drums. So let’s get right into it shall we? Grant Green’s Idle Moments
The first track off the album is also the title track “Idle Moments”. The tune is a nice laid back beginning to the album. The tune begins with just piano, bass, and drums then expands to the entire group. Grant Green and Bobby Hutcherson share duties of playing the head while Pearson plays melodic runs in the spaces available. Grant Green starts the solos off and does not disappoint. He uses lots of bebop licks and connects his ideas well, leaving lots of space, adding blues licks, and comps as well. Following Grant Green’s solo is Duke Pearson. I just love this solo. He goes blues heavy as well as really developing nice melodic ideas and does very little comping so you hear the drums and bass even more than usual.
Following Pearson Joe Henderson comes in and his tone is just so elegant. He just pierces through the sound and it resonates inside of you. Usually albums start off with something high energy, but I think it helps that this is nice and slow. This track has a lot of layers, a lot of depth. Hutcherson concludes the solos on vibes. He also does a great job of using repetition in his solo and letting certain tones just ring. The track concludes by going back to the head and playing it out. It’s played very similarly to the first time, but being that the song is over 14 minutes long it doesn’t feel repetitious and, quiet honestly, its refreshing to hear it again.
“Jean De Fleur” is the next record and is a direct contrast to the title track “Idle Moments” This time the melody is played more so by Sax and vibes with guitar playing the hits. Still when it comes to solos Grant Green takes charge and sheds first. I feel as though the band is really listening to each other here and interacting well helping build Green’s solo just as much as Green is. Joe Henderson solos next and I just love his solo. He brings lots of energy and in my opinion solos even better than Grant Green does (not that it’s a competition). Hutcherson solos next on vibes and keeps it fairly melodic, leaving spaces and adding a flurry of eight notes where he deems appropriate. Grant Green then goes on to solos again! Maybe a redeemer chorus? Either way it sounds good and is unusual for an album recording to come back in and solo again.
I have the 98 re issue of this album which contains alternate versions of “Jean De Fleur” and “Django” so depending on the version you listen to that may or may not be available to you. I will just review one of the last two tunes on the original album. The last two tunes are”Django” and ‘Nomad” both are great, but I’ll conclude this review by talking about “Nomad” since I like it slightly more and it’s the last track. “Nomad” begins with just piano and then everyone plays a melodic riff accompanied by drum hits. The head is run through rather quickly and we go right into the blowing. Joe Henderson is first and wastes no time, he gets right into the groove and plays a nice combination of fast notes, slow notes, repetitious riffs, and some Coltrane like lines. Hutcherson solos next and actually imitates Hendersons’ lick. This shows that not only he has a good ear, but he’s using it to pick up where Henderson left off. I feel Hutcherson plays a bit busier here, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s also really bringing out the changes well. I can hear all the connections he’s making relating to his melodic lines and the harmonic progression. Grant Green solos next and Henderson has a nice moment where he adds some background horn lines to Green’s solo. Green plays similar to his bandmates on this one. Lots of running eighth lines and making great connections from chord to chord. Pearson solos last and then the head comes in and the track concludes with a bang.
This album review taught me a few things. One, I need to hear more combos with guitarists in them. Two, we all have albums that we purchased and just haven’t gotten around to listening to, but we should. And lastly, Grant Green is a monster. I can’t wait till I head to the record store (yes they still exist and yes I purchase albums) and cop some more Grant Green. This album was a nice treat that I’ve had all along. So cop this one if you haven’t already and look through your own collection. I’m sure you have a hidden gem or two waiting for you that you haven’t given a chance yet.