Summarize the main features of Grant solo:
1) Use of the F blues scale over F7 and Bb7, as well as
2) Be-bop phrasing, usually in the second half of the chorus between bars 6-8
3) Extended use of 8th note triplet rhythms.
4) 16th note triplet embellishments or "trills".
5) Development of short, three-note motives with rhythmic displacement.
6) Arpeggios and diatonic chord extensions.
7) Simple melodic construction contrasted with intricate rhythms, and phrasing over the bar lines.
Let's continue the analysis of Grant's solo on this blues in F, starting with the
Grant begins a three note motif in bar 12 of the second chorus, and repeats this fragment down a fifth in
bar 1 of the third chorus. He repeats the symmetrical sequence several times with two and one-half beats rest between each motif, then shortens it to an eighth rest in
bar 4. This motivic repetition followed by shortening the duration of rests in between, is a classic Green approach that creates a very dramatic
Bars 6 and 7 contain Grant's characteristic 16th note triplet trills in sequence for 5 beats.
Bar 8 is a typical bebop line over a D7b9 chord. Note the F#dim7
arpeggio (F#, A, C, Eb) which Grant plays over D7b9
In bars 9-11, Grant plays a series of triplets moving quickly down the neck. This incredibly athletic stretch is not easy to articulate so clearly as he does, and should dispel illusions that Grant Green was merely an instinctive
"blues" player with little technical facility on the guitar. On the C7 chord, Grant plays the extensions of a
Gmin9 arpeggio built in thirds (G, Bb, D, F,
A). This is a common blues approach when playing over a dominant chord which excludes the natural third degree
(E natural on C7) in favor of the 4th degree (F). To practice this concept, play a
minor 9 arpeggio starting on the fifth degree of the dominant chord.
(Gmin9 arpeggio over C7).
The fourth chorus opens with a very melodic phrase in bars 1-4, and is a typical example of Grant's ability to
"hear" catchy melodies which are neither blues nor bebop, but something more closely related to pop music. This is part of what makes his sound so appealing to a broad range of listeners.
In bars 5 and 6, Grant accents the note Ab over the Bb7
chord (the b7th degree of the chord, this is also called a guide tone), and extends the phrase in a sequence of thirds which spell an
Abmaj7 arpeggio. Abmaj7 is an extension of Fmin9 (F,
Ab, C, Eb, G). Again, this is the blues approach of playing a
min9 arpeggio starting on the fifth degree of a dominant chord
(Fmin9 over Bb7).
Bar 8 is a descending G Harmonic Minor scale over D7b9. Note that Grant resolves this phrase over the bar line by using classic guide-tone resolution - the b7th of D7
(C) resolves down 1/2 step to the b3rd degree of Gmin7 (Bb) on beat one of
bar 9. Try this approach to make your improvisation outline the sound of the chord changes.
In bars 9-11, Grant plays a beautiful blues lick over the G-7 / C7 / F7
chord progression - another example where ignoring the changes and playing the blues always sounds good!
In the last chorus Grant slides into the third degree of F7 from 1/2 step below
(Ab - A) - another essential part of the blues sound.
Bars 5-6 contain a G-7 arpeggio over a Bb7 chord, then Grant moves up a whole step to an
A-7 arpeggio over the F7 chord in bar 7, and follows that with a descending
G Harmonic Minor scale over D7b9 again and resolves with the same b7-3 guide tone resolution explained in the last chorus.
In the last four bars, Grant plays a beautiful ending phrase to close out his solo. All I can at this point, is go buy the record and check it out - your ears will appreciate it!
Click here for the complete transcription
Here is a link to a Grant Green Discography that will be helpful to those of you who are interested in knowing more about his
1978, Grant made over 90 recodings as a leader or sideman which are listed in this discography. For those who are new to Grant's playing, you may wonder where to begin. While some people prefer his early Blue Note recordings, and some are fans of his funk and R&B style playing, I enjoy all of it, and over the years I have tried to collect all of the lps or cds Grant ever played on. Recent reissue cds along with unreleased recordings now issued for the first time, have made it easier than ever to get into Grant Green, even though some lps are still unissued in cd format.
In order to aid you in your search for quality Grant Green, I will offer an opinion regarding my favorite recordings, hoping you realize this is purely subjective. I have tried to point out one or two great tracks on each recording so that you can focus your listening toward some real gems.
All of the recordings Grant made with organist
Larry Young are great. My favorite is the 1964 Blue Note
LP "Street of Dreams" (BST 84253) which includes vibist
Bobby Hutcherson and drummer Elvin Jones. All four tunes on this date have a truly dream-like quality, supported by Elvin's solid but laid back groove. Also from 1964,
"Talkin' About" (BST 84183) is a trio date with
Larry Young and Elvin. This recording is remarkable for it's modern post-bop approach - listen to Grant burn on the title track,
"Talkin' About J.C.". On the ballad
"People", Grant plays it slow and expressive before double-timing a beautiful solo. Elvin's subtle brush work is essential listening here.
"I Want To Hold Your
Hand" (BST 84202)
the same trio adds tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, and plays the most soulfully funky cover of this famous Lennon-McCartney tune you'll ever hear.
"Idle Moments" (BST 84154) is often listed as a must-have Grant Green lp. Recorded in
with Joe Henderson on tenor and
Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, the title track, lasting 15 minutes, is an extremely slow blues with a late night mood so dark, you'll only need a cigarette and a beer to turn your living room into a New York jazz club.
You can get a taste of
"cool" '60's organ trio sound on the 1961
LP "Grant's First Stand" with
Baby Face Willette on organ. The first track, "Miss Ann's Tempo", is a Green original and one of his finest blues solos anywhere.
Another one of Grant's famous collaborators was pianist
Sonny Clark. The two cd collection on Blue Note, "Grant Green - The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark" was recorded in
1961-62 and not released until 1979 in Japan on three lps titled
"Nigeria" has the only recorded meeting between Grant and drummer
Art Blakey, and it's hard to imagine why Blue Note kept this one in the vaults for 18 years before putting it out. The Gershwin tune
"It Ain't Necessarily So" has Art playing such a tight back-beat, soul groove, that Grant kicks into high gear for his solo while Art is yelling into the cymbal mikes in the background! Grant plays beautifully complex lines on
"I Concentrate On You", and
"Gooden's Corner" is a good example of his simplistic but elegant style of blues playing.
One of the greatest modern post-bop recording dates is "Solid" (BN LT-990). Grant plays some of his most
"solid" bop lines here with tenor Joe Henderson and alto James
Spaulding, two far-reaching modernists. It is rare to hear a guitarist in the front line with two horn players from the Blue Note
'60's era, and Grant is no less of a soloist here. Two members of Coltrane's famous rhythm section, pianist
McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, help make this a hard-driving date. The fact that this was recorded barely a week after Coltrane finished his masterpiece
"Crescent" with the same pianist and drummer, tells you how significant this music is in placing Grant among the greatest jazz guitar players ever, (if not the most courageous!). If you like this one, then check out the
lp "Matador". Recorded in 1965 with the same rhythm section, (but again released 15 years later only in Japan!), they play the same modal version of
"My Favorite Things" which Coltrane made famous.
Another example of how Grant handled modal material can be heard on a fine version of Miles Davis'
"So What" from the the
"Sunday Mornin'" (BST 84099). This
LP also showcases some of Grant's Gospel influences. On Grant's
Blue Note LP "Feelin' The
Spirit", he teams up with pianist
Herbie Hancock and drummer Billy Higgins to explore more gospel and spiritual music, always with a twist of
"Green". The track "Joshua Fit De Battle Ob
has Grant singing the blues like in a Baptist church.
Another of my all-time favorite tracks is the hippest, groovin-ist version of an old American folk tune,
"Red River Valley", from the
1962 Blue Note
LP "Goin' West" (BST 84310) with
Herbie Hancock on piano, Reggie Workman on bass and Billy Higgins
Hank Mobley's Blue Note lp "Workout" (BST 84080) is a must-have. Next to
"Soul Station", it's one of Mobley finest recodings and has some of Grant's best playing. Here, Grant is surrounded Miles' former rhythm section - pianist
Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Joe
Jones. Grant sounds so relaxed as he cleanly executes his solo on the up-tempo blues
A real nice treat is Grant's LP "Green
Street" (BST 84071). It's Grant in a trio setting with no harmonic accompaniment so his lines stand out in stark, almost minimalist relief, as he forgoes adding chordal punctuation like Kenny Burrell would prefer in the same trio format. I like his version of
"The Latin Bit" is a
Blue Note recording where Grant explores the Latin trend in jazz which was only recently brought to the U.S. by
Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. But there is a big difference here in the way Grant creates his own funky interpretations, far from the laid back Bossa Nova or easy listening style. His playing on
is outstanding. Check it out and judge for yourself.
A beautiful Blue Note LP is trumpeter Lee Morgan's "Search For The New
Land" (BST 84169) with
Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Reggie Workman and Billy
Higgins...and Grant Green of course. How many jazz guitarists were able to hang in there with a group like this? Grant adds a nice touch to the title track, but listen to him solo on
with the horn section playing harmonized riffs behind him.
Grant contributed some fine solos to pianist Horace Parlan's Blue Note
LP "Up and Down" (BST 84082) with tenor sax
Booker Ervin, whose soulful Texas sound fits well with Grant's blues-based approach here. The first track,
"The Books Beat" has a very fluid blues solo by Grant, but it's a slow blues
,"The Other Part Of
Town", which is a showcase for Grant's soulful, cool and laid back blues playing. You'll recognize Miles' influence when you hear the space that Grant leaves between his phrases.
Another great blues solo is "Back
Talk" from organist
Jimmy Smith's Blue Note LP "I'm Movin
On" (BST 84255). It's
11.05 minutes of smokin' blues by two great masters. Some of Grant's most harmonically inventive work occurs as he takes it
"outside" on the lengthy exchanges with Jimmy.
|Grant's playing with saxophonist Stanley Turrentine is best captured on
"Up At Minton's" (BST 84069). You gotta have this one! A superb recording, now available on a two cd set, it's a live date featuring the same rhythm section as
"Up and Down" - Horace Parlan, piano, George Tucker, bass, and Al
Harewood, drums. Grant turns in an excellent performance on "But Not For
Me" with a slightly saturated tube-driven guitar sound that makes his lines cut through with an extra stinging edge. Grant also plays well on another Blue Note Turrentine
LP, "Z.T's Blues".
Don't forget the two Jimmy Forrest LPs from 1959
Forrest" and "All The Gin Is
Gone". Besides the solo we analyzed on the blues
"Dog It", another blues,
"Sunkenfoal", from the "Black Forrest"
CD is truly one of Grant's best up-tempo blues solos you'll ever want to transcribe!
Now if that's not enough Grant Green for you, check out these other organ dates.
"Blues For Lou" (BN 21438) is a nice Blue Note organ trio date from
and recently issued for the the first time. While some of these recordings have too much corny
"boogaloo" music, the title track is an excellent blues worthy of the price of the record.
A new CD reissue just came out by organist Don Patterson, Sonny
Stitt, Grant Green and drummer Billy James (one of the greats in the soul-jazz
genre). On Prestige titled
"Brothers 4", it also includes the
LP "Donny Brook". Don Patterson was a great jazz organist who played both jazz and R&B grooves. Grant plays a nice solo on the title track, and on
Band", but don't overlook his playing on the Burt Bacharach pop tune,
"Walk On By", he demonstrates his skill at playing tasteful jazz lines on popular music. Even more hip are the off-beat, laid-back rhythms he
|One of my favorite recordings with organ and sax is George Braith's
"Extension" (BLP 4171). This album stands out from other
LPs of this type because of George's compositions. It's refreshing to hear Grant play on tunes with more interesting harmonic activity than the standard blues which he plays so well. Grant just tears it up on the title track,
Grant is on a couple of nice
Prestige recordings with organist
Jack McDuff. "Goodnight, It's Time To
Go" (Prestige 7220) is reissued on the
"Legends of Acid
Jazz", where the tunes
"McDuff Speaking" and
"A Smooth One" are worth a listen.
LP (Prestige 7199) has Jimmy Forrest on tenor and Ben Dixon on drums. My favorite cut is the deadly slow
"I Want a Little
Girl" where the blues just "drips" off of Grant's guitar.
|Tenor saxophonist Harold Vick's Blue Note LP, "Steppin'
Out" (BST 52433) has trumpeter Blue Mitchell
with organist John Patton and drummer Ben Dixon. Grant is in good company here and plays superbly throughout. Nice record overall.
Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson's recordings have some nice performances by Grant.
"Here 'Tis" (BST 84066) is among the best. Listen to Grant's solo on
"Watusi Jump" and a classic slow blues at which Grant excels,
"Walk Wid Me." Donaldson's
"Natural Soul" (BST 84108) has a good cut,
"Sow Belly Blues", and the Argo
LP "Musty Rusty" contains a beautiful tune,
"Midnight Sun", where Grant plays a short, but sweet solo.
Even though Grant has been accused of "going commercial" at the end of his life, his later recordings still contain some excellent work. On the
Blue Note LP "Carryin'
On" Grant plays with such a sweet jazz guitar tone, it reminds me of when Wes Montgomery made albums like
"Goin' Out of My Head" or "California Dreaming" . Maybe they're not among the best records either man made, but it was popular music of the time, and you will hear some beautiful, classy playing - not to be missed. When Grant covers the pop tune
"Hurt So Bad"
(), you can hear the beginnings of the smooth jazz sound which influenced George Benson in making his cross-over hit
"Breezin'" in the mid '70's.
1970 Blue Note
LP "Alive" shows Grant's preference for the James Brown/ Motown sound. With
Ronnie Foster on organ and Idris Muhammad on drums, check out
"Let the Music Take Your
Mind" () for a taste of R&B Soul Jazz.
"Live at the
Lighthouse" is another documentation of Grant's club activity of
1972. Here the band is much tighter and you can hear some of Grant's best solos in this genre.
I hope my comments will help you search out and enjoy some of Grant's finer moments. While it may be hard to believe, I have left out many other very worthy recordings of Grant Green. Once you have listened to these recommendations, send me an email for a further home-study course!
for Guitar – a Melodic Approach
Garrison's new book
is now available on Berklee Press
and distributed internationally by Hal Leonard
tablature for guitar and comes complete with a 90+ track cd with back-up
trio tracks for play along exercises by Garrison, bassist Steve LaSpina
(a long time collaborator with guitarist
and drummer John Riley.
More articles by Garrison are available online through his website:
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