One of Britain’s best-connected jazzers marks his 80th birthday with a session heavy on Thelonious Monk
No musician can have covered more of the British jazz scene than bassist Dave Green. From Humphrey Lyttelton to Stan Tracey, not to mention some of the grandest visitors to Ronnie Scott’s, he has understood and underpinned them all. He turns 80 next week and he’s chosen this, a BBC archive session from 2004, to mark the occasion. His trio, with saxophonist Iain Dixon and drummer Gene Calderazzo, is joined by free improvising saxophonist Evan Parker. Green’s open-mindedness in music used to cause mutterings among more straight-ahead jazz lovers, but maybe it’s died down by now. There are five tracks here, after a brief chat with producer Jez Nelson. Three are based on Thelonious Monk tunes, one a ballad by Billy Strayhorn and one freely improvised.
The simple strength of Monk holds his pieces together and the result is quite refreshing. The ballad, A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing, features a restrained and delicate duet by Parker and Dixon (on clarinet). Back in the 1960s, some wit remarked that free improvisation sounded like a fire in a pet shop. This one, entitled Ex-Changes, isn’t quite that, but it has its moments.
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