February 14, 2017

Grant Green - Feelin' The Spirit (1963)

My favorite jazz album of all time. Straight up the most easy going, swinging, memory evoking, and personable jazz I've ever heard. There are those sessions when you can just tell that the bandmates are clicking on some higher level; a quality completely intangible, and I think this album is the greatest example of that phenomenon. Feelin' The Spirit is made up of five negro spirituals and Grant Green, perhaps the bluesiest player Blue Note ever signed, lets loose a jazz guitar performance that will never be touched--he's walking on air here. Is he displaying more musicianship than Wes Montgomery? Hardly. Is he doing anything different than his usual blues flares? No. Is he, or any other member of the band, blowing shit out of the water? Nope. It's all about soul communication here, straight up groove, feeling. Now onto the accomanying pianist, Herbie Hancock. All of the praise I just gave Green can be multiplied by five for Hancock on this album. He calmly fills up every space Green leaves, soaks up everything like a sponge--like how Miles Davis describes him in his autobiography. Thankfully Green and Hancock are the only two lead instruments and they line up like two sides of a zipper; the back-and-forths are unstoppable. Tracks one, three, and five are exceptional for the pacing and atmosphere of this album, but the twin peaks here are Joshua Fit Da Battle Ob Jericho and Go Down Moses. On both of these songs Hancock unleashes a level of funk which was never, and will never be matched in acoustic jazz. The smoothness of his left hand chords on Joshua is no doubt the greatest thing ever played on a piano, and I mean that. Glen Gould? Well Tempered Clavier? nah. Herbie on Feelin' The Spirit, all day long. I'm taking away from how much dopeness the rhythm duo of Butch Warren and Billy Higgins lays down, as they were pretty much a part of the formula for any great groove-based Blue Notes from 1963 and 1964.

You know, I originally got this CD as an after thought. I ordered Ornette On Tenor off Amazon in highschool because it was hard for me to find a download link for that album through my school's highly restricted internet. I figured I would get something else to make the shipping worthwhile and tacked Feelin' The Spirit on since I noticed it was the only classic Blue Note Grant Green studio session that I didn't have in my digital library. It's amazing how that works. When I clicked 'add to cart' I had no idea what was in store.

Sample (YT quality is bad for all of these tracks)

Feelin' The Spirit