The Artistry of… Grant Green

Imagine a great winged bird coolly carried high above by buoying, rising currents, and then imagine the space and the ease of using those waves to soar. You would have to know something about those currents to make the way you moved seem like second nature.

Like a soaring bird knows currents, Grant Green knew music — and the essence was the same. That is how I hear the gentle cool grooves of Green’s artistry. A lightly propelling, forward groove. Like the Midwest where he was born, there is a sensibility of the broad shoulder; the music is sweet and bluesy.

Green started playing the guitar in grade school. He was taught by his father and had an early foundation in gospel music, playing gigs in his early teens. He grew up in a place with a rocky history, in a place where social and racial tension continues to this day. Maybe that is where some of the freeing and soaring comes in.

Green was strongly influenced by the phrasing of horn players, especially Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and you can hear the reflections. He said he favoured their phrasing even over other guitar players. Freedom, a bluesy flight above, in the cool of it all.

The Artistry of… airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.