"As a guitarist, perhaps one of the most challenging musical contexts is playing duo with a pianist...You really have to listen to each other, and trust each other. When musicians trust each other, they don't have to 'make' anything happen. It happens naturally."
—Russell Malone, from the liner notes
Telarc will release Jazz at the Bistro with pianist Benny Green and guitarist Russell Malone, a recording dedicated to the memory of the late jazz bassist Ray Brown.
Jazz at the Bistro's fifteen tracks (recorded live over a four-night stand at the St. Louis club) include Thelonius Monk's "Ask Me Now," Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low," Cannonball Adderley's "Wabash," Billy Strayhorn's "The Intimacy of the Blues" and John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice"/"Lazy Bird." In the hands of these two young jazz lions, these classic tunes sound fresher than ever. Produced by Elaine Martone, Jazz at the Bistro also spotlights a pair of original compositions (Green's "Quiet Girl" and Malone's "Hand-Told Stories").
Born in New York in 1963 and raised in Berkeley, California, Benny Green began studying classical piano at age seven and was introduced to jazz by his father. After moving back to New York in 1982, he gigged with Betty Carter, then Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. After extensive touring with Freddie Hubbard, he joined Ray Brown's trio in 1992 and his reputation quickly spread. In 1993, Oscar Peterson chose Green as the first recipient of the city of Toronto's Glenn Gould International Protege Prize. Green later teamed up with Peterson on Telarc's Oscar and Benny (CD-83406), released in 1998.
Green's Telarc debut, Naturally (CD-83498), featured Malone and bassist Christian McBride, and was recorded just days after an acclaimed performance at the 2000 IAJE Conference in New Orleans. Green's Blues (CD-83539), released in 2001, was an exciting solo collection of jazz standards by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner and George Gershwin, among others.
Russell Malone started playing music when he was five. A sophisticated and versatile guitarist, his influences range from swing to R&B. Malone first made his mark with Jimmy Smith's band in the late 1980s. Over the past decade, he has maintained a successful dual career as a solo artist on Columbia and Verve, and a valuable session player for a host of high-profile artists, including Diana Krall, Ray Brown, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. In the summer of 2001, Malone and Green first performed as a duo at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland.
Although Benny Green and Russell Malone may not look like seasoned veterans of the jazz scene, their extraordinary talent and deep commitment to the jazz tradition have earned them prominent niches in the genre. Their stunning work on Jazz at the Bistro confirms that they have a great deal more to say.