Though serious jazz fans certainly recognize the brilliance of guitarist Grant Green, his overall contributions to the genre were sorely underrated during his own lifetime. Best known as a coveted Blue Note Records session leader and sideman - he played on nine Blue Note albums in 1961 alone - Green helped raise the art of jazz guitar playing to new heights. Like his contemporary Wes Montgomery, Green's driving, aggressive tone was simultaneously fluid and eloquent. He moved freely from style to style, embracing bop, gospel, blues, Latin, country, soul, and funk. In the late '60s, Green forayed into pop jazz but was overshadowed on the charts by more commercial players such as George Benson, who sang as well as played. Throughout most of his brief life, Green battled racial and religious barriers, as well as two failed marriages and a drug habit. This book follows him from his St. Louis gospel and blues roots to his heyday at New York's Blue Note Records; through a subsequent period of musical flux; on the club circuit in Detroit; and into eventual disillusionment, declining health, and death in 1979 at age 43.
While later Grant Green songs such as "Down Here on the Ground" from the 1970 album Alive! have been sampled by performers ranging from Madonna to A Tribe Called Quest, the more classic 1963 album Idle Moments ranked Number 9 on Rolling Stone's Alternative Music chart in 1994 - more than 30 years after it was recorded. Such versatility and timelessness makes the short life and career of this jazz guitar genius all the more fascinating.