Sunday, January 29, 2012

John Stein's Journey Down (Grant) Green Street

A blurb from Michael Cuscuna on the back of John Stein’s Green Street (Whaling City Sound), a reissue of a late nineties recording, notes that it acts as a homage to Grant Green, as well as the classic sixties’ organ jazz combo and the Rudy Van Gelder sound. While Stein’s album shares its title with one of Grant Green’s Blue Note discs, the title track is derived from the location of the 1359 Jazz Club that was home for Stein’s organ trio at the time and while Grant Green was an influence and inspiration on Stein, this disc is comprised mostly of Stein’s funky and bluesy originals backed by organist Ken Clark and drummer Dave Hurst with David ‘Fathead’ Newman adding sax and flute to five of the twelve tracks.

The mood is set with the opening Booga Lou, with Newman’s tenor the frosting on the danceable groove, while Hotcakes, has a bit of a movie soundtrack flavor with Newman’s flute alluding to Theme From the Pink Panther as Stein comps behind him. Jack’s Back is a jaunty blues which appears built on a riff from the Louis Jordan classic Choo Choo Ch’Boogie, and features some crisp playing from Stein, while Newman returns on tenor for the ballad, Our Love is Here to Stay, with Newman’s warm vibrato adding to the feeling and followed by some splendid playing from Stein.

Sultry features the trio again with a somewhat exotic, middle eastern flavor, before Newman returns for the title track, which sounds like a spinoff of Jimmy Smith’s Chicken Shack, with the tempo slowed down slightly. Newman is on alto sax for the Ellington classic, Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me, with Stein’s guitar responding to Newman’s statement of the theme, then taking a short chorus before Newman launches into his solo and later soloing some more. The last two tracks, Be Ooo Ba and You Stepped Out Of A Dream, featuring the trio, were from a live radio broadcast and further showcase Stein’s fleet, swinging and thoughtful playing along with that of his trio.

Stein has added his own thoughts along with Ed Hazell’s original liner notes to this marvelous release that is certain to delight fans of organ jazz trios and jazz guitar.

I believe I received a review copy from Jazz & Blues Report for whom this review was written, but not published. Here is a video of John Stein (not with organ).

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