Bennie Green

One of the few trombonists to emerge in the 1940s and not sound very close to J.J. Johnson, Bennie Green (1923-1977) had a witty style and a large sound. He loved to play blues-oriented material and he fit comfortably into both swing and early r&b settings.

Born and raised in Chicago, Green was a member of the Earl Hines Orchestra during 1942-1948 (other than two years spent in the military). He was a major soloist with Charlie Ventura’s “Bop for the People” bands in 1948-1950, rejoining Hines to play in a swing-oriented small group during 1951-1953. Green was very active throughout the 1950s, leading record dates for a variety of labels and heading extroverted bands.

Green’s first Prestige date, a rambunctious septet outing with both Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Big Nick Nicholas on tenors, has been reissued as part of the sampler Early Bones. Bennie Green Blows His Horn teams Green with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse on such songs as “Sometimes I’m Happy,” “Say Jack,” and “Groovin’ the Blues.” Bennie Green with Art Farmer, Walking Down, and Glidin’ Along, all quintet dates, have Green sharing the front line with trumpeter Art Farmer and tenors Eric Dixon and Johnny Griffin.

Bennie Green led other fine sessions along the way but after 1961 it almost entirely stopped. He co-led a session with Sonny Stitt in 1964 and was with Duke Ellington’s orchestra for a few months during 1968-1969 before going into semi-retirement in Las Vegas, playing in show bands. But he left behind him many excellent recordings that emphasize swing, bluesiness, and good feeling.