Green: The Main Attraction
his brilliant career as one of the best producers in the music
history, Creed Taylor (born in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 13, 1929)
has worked with some of worldís greatest guitarists: from Barry
Galbraith (1919-1983) and Mundell Lowe, who took part in the Creed
Taylor Orchestra albums (Lonelyville, Shock!, Ping
Pang Pong) for ABC-Paramount in the late Fifties, to smooth jazz
virtuoso Steve Laury, who was signed for CTI in 1995.
between, Creed produced memorable albums for two of the best jazz
guitarists ever, Wes Montgomery and George Benson, applying his Midas
touch to transform them in best-selling stars. There were also the
acoustic guitarists he paired with Stan Getz on legendary bossa nova
albums: Charlie Byrd, Joao Gilberto, Luiz Bonfa and Laurindo Almeida.
And the list goes on and on: Jim Hall, Eric Gale, Joe Beck, Jack
Wilkins and Larry Coryell.
to mention Grant Green (June 6, 1931- January 31, 1979), the St.
Louis-born unsung jazz guitar hero, who was one of the main influences
on George Bensonís career, and played with Jimmy Forrest, John
Coltrane, Lou Donaldson, Yusef Lateef, Herbie Hancock, Jack McDuff,
Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Jimmy Smith and Stanley Turrentine, among
many others. As a leader, he recorded many albums for the Blue Note
(nothing less than nine LPs only in 1961!) and Verve labels in the
Sixties, although personal problems with drugs took him off the scene
to renowned jazz historian Douglas Payne, eleven years before The Main
Attraction (Kudu KU-29), Grant Green and Creed Taylor had worked
together at Verve a few times in 1965: on Johnny Hodges/Wild Bill
Davisí albums Joeís Blues (V6-8617) and Wings &
Things (V6-8630), as well as on Greenís own album as leader, His
Majesty, King Funk (V6-8627, with Larry Young). There is also a
never released session that Creed produced for Grant Green, on August
5, 1965, that has similar tunes to Greenís 1967 recording eventually
issued on Muse Records under the title Iron City. Later on, the
guitarist appeared in one of the first albums issued by CTI, Black
Out, a session led by tenorist Fats Theus in July 1970.
such a spontaneous musician like Grant Green, accustomed to record in
a very relaxed way, sometimes cutting an entire album of six or eight
tunes in a 6-hour recording session, and often playing in a
jam-session atmosphere, the recording process of The Main
Attraction (on March 1976) for sure represented a completely new experience
Grant Green arrived for the sessions at Van Gelderís studio, in
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, two of the basic tracks had been already
done. All he needed to do was to add his guitar on the top of them.
Detail: he had never heard those songs before! Only the third track,
Creature, was recorded with all the musicians together in the studio,
although even on that tune Creed insisted that Green should overdub
his guitar solo, in order to correct a few flaws and achieve a truly
Matthews was very busy on March, 1976, preparing his debut solo album
for Kudu, Shoogie Wanna Boogie, as well as starting to record
the basic tracks for the Benson & Farrell album on CTI. Not
surprisingly, both albums feature the same musicians who took part in
the rhythm section of Grant Greenís The Main Attraction: Don
Grolnick (Fender Rhodes electric piano & Hohner clavinet), Will
Lee (electric bass), Andy Newmark (drums) and Steve Khan (rhythm
guitar). All members of the horn section also perform on Shoogie
Wanna Boogie. And percussionists Sue Evans & Carlos Charles
can be heard on Lalo Schifrinís debut album for CTI, Black Widow,
also recorded on March 1976!
19-minute long title tune, The Main Attraction, which occupied
the entire Side A of the original LP issue, is not exactly a composition.
We canít say it was composed. Actually, it was built! David
Matthews came in with two main riffs, played by Don Grolnick on the
electric piano, and later doubled by the horn section. Don started to
play those riffs, and then the other musicians joined him. Thatís
why, on the LP back cover, there were special thanks to Andy, Don, Steve and Will for the inspiration and
groove on The Main Attraction. In fact, David Matthews credited
them as co-authors.
groove is solid like a rock, but the guest soloists seem to fly like
seagulls over the cliffs. Hubert Laws, the supreme jazz flutist, plays
with his usual facility and sublime tone. Michael Brecker impresses by
his technical dexterity. And leader (who said leader?) Grant Green
goes through the motions on this tune with impeccable phrasing. On the
congas, Carlos Charles (aka Carlos Martin) interacts well with the
miscellaneous percussion instruments of his partner Sue Evans (not
related to Gil Evans, although a member of Gilís Orchestra for
several years). Above them all, the horn section attacks with
r&b riffs and funky grooves can be found on Future Feature, a
pretty happy tune very similar to the songs written by David Matthews
for the Benson & Farrell album. Some critics used to call it
funkzak. But, whatís wrong? The last track, Creature, the only one
composed by Grant Green, is a hip blues that fascinates for its
unpretentiousness, inspiring Green, Laws and Brecker to perform their
sexiest solos on the album.
a shame that Grant Green recorded only The Main Attraction (his
first album in four years) for Kudu. With serious health problems, he
was hospitalized soon after recording Easy in April 1978, dying
a year later from a heart attack in Harlem. Now, his son Greg (aka
Grant Green, Jr.) himself a gifted guitarist, tries to preserve his
father's legacy. This 2001 reissue of The Main Attraction is
another good way to honor his artistry.
Mr. DeSouteiro is Brazilís top jazz producer and CTI historian.