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Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark

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Blue Note sessions are legendary for producing results that far exceed expectations and this collection of guitarist Green’s 1960s dates with pianist Sonny Clark is just such a paradigm. During 1961-65 Green was Blue Note’s most prolific artist which probably accounts for the fact that this material wasn’t released until nearly 20 years after it had been waxed and a year after Green’s death (at age 47 in 1979). Originally issued on LP as Nigeria, Gooden’s Corner and Oleo, the latter two on Japanese Blue Note, this two-CD set also includes three tunes that appeared in a 1989 Mosaic Records collection.

Accompanied by bassist Sam Jones and drummers Art Blakey (on Nigeria only) and Louis Hayes, Green and Clark get down to business in a hurry with a stunning version of Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin” with Blakey sounding very much at home in this horn-less quartet. Grant’s fluid bop lines are gracefully complemented throughout by Clark’s crisp playing. While neither Green nor Clark (who died at age 31 in 1963, a year after their final session) are much remembered today, their music is richly rewarding and, with Mosaic’s set out of print, this may be the last chance to get it. Highly recommended.