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Idle Moments [LP][Reissue]
Vinyl | LP (12" album, 33 rpm), Reissued
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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, April 20, 1999
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Idle Moments is a 1964 jazz album by guitarist Grant Green. Released on Blue Note, it features performances by Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Blue Note in-house producer Duke Pearson on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Al Harewood on drums. The album is best known for the title piece, a slow composition in C minor which lasts for nearly 15 minutes. Pearson, who wrote the song, explains in his liner notes to the album that the tune was meant to be much shorter. Due to the musicians repeating the main melody twice, however, there was some confusion as to whether or not one chorus would consist of 16 or 32 measures. Producer Alfred Lion was satisfied with the take, although he suggested that they do a retake to fit the song into a seven minute limit. However, the song had a special feeling to it which no subsequent take could recapture, so it was decided to release the first take on the album. Two other songs, "Jean de Fleur" and "Django," were re-recorded in shorter renditions to compensate for the length of the title track; the extended renditions of both songs can be heard on the 1998 RVG remaster of the album
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But getting to the point, now that we have some very early Wes Montgomery live recordings available, we see that between he and Kenny Burrell, who was starting at the same time, right around 1950, all jazz guitarists since have had little choice but pay homage to these two titans because simply put, between Montgomery's incredible chordal work, octave picking and blazing solos, and Burrell's equally nimble fingered work that tied in blues to bebop, showing just how close ultimately the forms are musically and giving bebop a sense of swing to boot, it would prove all but impossible to surpass them.
Grant Green certainly didn't try, but did his guitar work a bit differently, as strictly a solo instrument waiting to take its turn after the other instrumentalists had theirs, leaving chord work up to the piano and vibes. "Idle Moments" was recorded in 1963, featuring Green and his beautifully soft tone and superb choice of notes that make this CD more dreamy and atmospheric than most jazz at the time was. The difference here is the use of the vibes, played expertly here by Bobby Hutcherson, a worthy disciple of Lionel Hampton if there ever was one. The vibraphone, a close relative of the xylophone, was much more prevalent in decades past, and its use here is much appreciated and adds a very nice additional feel to these songs, long improvisational pieces with the exception of two versions of Green's own "Jean de Fleur" and a longer second version of "Django" as a closer.
Green would, like so many jazz and blues players before him, succumb to heroin addiction in the 1970's, and reputedly his late work showed the signs of his weakness. On "Idle Moments" however, the playing is pristine, the sound is fantastic, and those who like the better known jazz players of the world looking for more players perhaps with a twist should check out Grant Green. Rockers, don't turn your nose up at these giants of the instrument. The instrument can be so varied, from metal that can level entire city blocks, plaintive, as in the blues of Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker and Guitar Slim, and delicate and elegant, Grant Green, Montgomery, Burrell and newer artists like the great Russell Malone and late also lamentedly little known Jimmy Ponder excelled and excel in. And you want the real definition of real cool, not the hipster crap that only awards conformity? Bebop, my people.
Idle Moments is one of those rare moments in recorded music when the musicians and the music become one, uniting in spirit around the musical fire. This needs to be heard, to understand the potential of improvised music to express love and unity.
But the rest of the CD does contain elements that make it special as well.
As a saxophone player I love the way in which Joe Henderson follows the lead of Grant Green, demonstrating that a sax player does not have to be in front in order to play beautifully.
Bobby Hutcherson's part in every recording he has played on has been crucial - here his sound and tasteful playing is one of the main ingredients to the overall success. Duke Pearson contributed the title track as well the fast tempo Nomad. His playing is sensitive and group oriented throughout.
A lot has been written on Green's special playing and his leadership - he deserves all compliments. The drummer and bass players share in this celebration of ego-less group spirit that makes this music so special.
The lesson that this music taught me is that when talent and mutual love and understanding join forces, the result is outstanding. This should be the aim of every musician. And to think that most of the musicians here were in their twenties when they reached this high level of musicianship - it is a testimony to their greatness and to the power of the group to elevate its member.
Needless to say - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!
In arguably his finest session for Blue Note, Idle Moments ranks among the very best jazz guitar records in history. From the pointed, aching lines of the title track, to the fiery, bop-infused solos on Jean de Fleur and Nomad, Green's style is instantly identifiable. The guy defines hard bop in all its soulful "badness." What a player.
I only wish this septet had recorded more together, so intuitive do they seem with respect to each other's playing.