Benny Green,
These Are Soulful Days
(Blue Note, 1999)

Thirty-seven-year-old jazz pianist Benny Green has assembled a trio for this release with an instrumental lineup identical to Nat King Cole's great trio of the 1940s. In both groups the leader plays piano while accompanied only by electric guitar and bass. No drums are to be found. But the similarities end there. Green's group is strictly instrumental and plays hard bop from the late '50s and '60s while Cole's played light swing, had a more pop feel and relied heavily on his magnificent vocals. (I always preferred Nat King Cole's singing to Frank Sinatra's, but that is getting off the subject).

The lack of a drummer does not stop the versatile Green and his sidemen from generating a great beat. The listener does not even notice these recordings lack drums, and it is the belief here that their presence would not add anything to the proceedings. The eight tunes are melodic and varied enough througout to keep the disc from sounding redundant. Not strictly a piano recording, guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Christian McBride get plenty of room to shine.

This disc was recorded as part of Blue Note's 60th anniversary celebration. Other Blue Note artists previously recorded all of the music heard here. Fans of piano jazz should enjoy the trio's excursion through the renowned jazz label's archives.

[ by Charlie Ricci ]
Rambles: 30 June 2001

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