Grant Green ‘Street of Dreams’ (Blue Note RVG) 5/5

Ostensibly what should have been a run of the mill quartet of American songbook standards was transformed into a magical session on this 1964 date and one in which organist Larry Young and drummer Elvin Jones excel as much as the leader. Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is ‘I wish you love’, formerly a song immortalised by French crooner Charles Trenet, but here transformed into a classic jazz tune with Green in particular in superlative form. The hanuting ballad ‘Lazy afternoon’ is played in 5/4 tempo and vibist Bobby Hutcherson, fresh from avant-garde excursions on Eric Dolphy’s ‘Out to Lunch’ turns in a stellar performance here. In fact the tempo gently builds in intensity and picks up two minutes in when Green takes up a solo with Jones demonstrating what a sensitive accompanyist he could be. The title track begins in conventional fashion before Jones and Young hijack proceedings with the former undertaking an extended solo and the latter 
supplying the polyrhythms that Coltrane loved to play behind in order that Green demonstrate his prowess on those familiar blues-inflected guitar licks. The final piece, ‘Somewhere in the night’, sounds like something that might have been composed for a Jacques Tati film and Hutcherson creates the cinematic ambience over which Green and Young comp beautifully. An awesome session, then, and little surprise that Alfred Lion wanted to record them again a year later in March 1965 on ‘I want to hold your hand’, this time with the additional tenor saxophone of Hank Mobley. The trio performed at a select number of live dates in New York and one can only wonder at what musical treasures these sessions yielded.

Tim Stenhouse