A master of swing and melody, pianist Benny Green marks his move to Telarc with invention, dazzling technique and heartfelt lyricism. With the release of Naturally, Green is poised to assume his rightful place in the pantheon of jazz greats. Employing instrumentation like that of Oscar Peterson's classic trios, he explores imaginative, new territory with stellar sidemen to challenge and inspire him.
Benny Green is a persuasive player. He can be forceful — as on the title track. But when he pursues a more lyrical path, à la Peterson on "Learnin' the Blues," he becomes untouchable. An all-star trio featuring bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Russell Malone brings the highest levels of musicianship to this well-integrated and hard-hitting session. The group interplay on tracks such as Carl Perkins' "Grooveyard" reveals patient phrasing and a rich sense of harmony.
All nine compositions on Naturally illustrate Benny Green's vision: from original compositions inspired by the personalities of his bandmates ("Russelln'" and "Captain Hook") and the legends of jazz ("Pittsburgh Brethren" and "Beg Your Parlan") to solo outings that explore more familiar terrain (Duke Ellington's "Love You Madly" and Wayne Shorter's "Lester Left Town").
A student at Berkeley High School in the early '80s, Benny paid his dues with the bands of Art Blakey, Betty Carter and Freddie Hubbard from 1983 to 1990. In 1992, he joined Ray Brown's trio, and his reputation spread as he became a vital member of that group. In 1993, Oscar Peterson bestowed upon Green the Protégé Prize, and he later teamed up with Peterson on Telarc's Oscar and Benny (CD-83406) in 1998. Now based in New York, Green travels widely as the leader of his own trio.
In January, fans of the new jazz masters—thousands of people (young and old—packed a ballroom at the annual convention of the International Association of Jazz Educators in New Orleans to see Benny Green perform with Christian McBride and Russell Malone. Naturally, recorded just days later, is jazz at its most adventurous, a powerful combination of virtuosity, risk-taking and boundless energy.
While Green has appeared on numerous Telarc releases with Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, the Blue Note veteran now begins recording exclusively for Telarc — the perfect home for someone who already stands among the few who can assume Peterson's mantle.