Grant Green: Idle Moments

Rating: 8.2/10
Rated as: Album
Album Status: Backdoor Classic
Released: 1965
Recorded: 1963
Specific Genre: Hard Bop
Main Genre: Jazz
Secondary Genre: Cool Jazz
Label: Blue Note

1 Idle Moments 2 Jean de Fleur 3 Django 4 Nomad Bonus Tracks: 5. Jean de Fleur [Alternate Take] 6. Django [Alternate Take]

Awesomely suggestive exercise in good taste

Stellar jazz guitarist Grant Green and stellar vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson join forces for this terrific workout in nocturnal, silky hard bop that avoids being listlessly smooth, but is elegant, soothing and occasionally brooding. The opener „Idle Moments“ is fifteen minutes of low-key barroom depression à la grandeur. Slow, languid and winding, Green, Hutcherson and Joe Henderson take off from the beautiful motif opening and closing the number with inconspicuous but effective solos – perfect for long lonesome cognac nights. The up-tempo „Jean de Fleur“ swings hard and wouldn’t be very interesting if not for the amazing interplay between all the quartet’s members (plus soloists Hutcherson and Henderson) – there’s scarcely another formation playing as democratic, tightly balanced and hypnotising as Green and his colleagues. Green knows that solos are only as interesting as their frame and his quartet is all about this framework. The structure is the same as before, with a catchy riff starting and ending the piece, swinging solos in between.

Green’s down-tempo version on „Django“ takes its time building up and kicks into mid-tempo gear almost two minutes into the track, with another splendidly understated statement by Grant’s guitar on top of the sax-supplied riff. In its strongest moments, Idle Moments sounds like a soft-spoken but confident answer to Miles Davis‘ Kind of Blue. „Nomad“ plays like a mix of the opening track and the faster swing of its followers, a fascinating twelve minutes of gentleman-bop, borrowing and quoting details of „Idle Moments“, creating a feel of careful coherence for the album.

There are no standouts in the traditional sense to speak of, because nothing sticks out of the overall quality. „Idle Moment“ is the deepest and most effective track, but the musicianship creates varieties of similar moods that invite you to rest and dwell in, each like the cool part of a pillow before you have to turn over. I couldn’t say that Hutcherson „shines“ on here for example – he just blends in perfectly, supplying even more subtle nuances to Green’s own subtle nuances. The album is really about letting yourself sink into the incessant swing these guys put down, not about the single tracks. Don’t make the mistake to dismiss this as too smooth or easy-listening – this is an awesomely suggestive exercise in good taste.