Guitarist Grant Green recorded two gospel-flavored leadership albums for Blue Note. The first was Sunday Mornin’, in June 1961, and the second was Feelin’ the Spirit, in December 1962.
Green, of course, would become a New York studio star in the 1960s and ’70s, but he grew up in St. Louis where he began his career at age 13 playing guitar in churches, backing a gospel vocal group. [Photo above of Grant Green by Francis Wolff (c) Mosaic Images]
Sunday Mornin’ features Kenny Drew (p), Grant Green (g), Ben Tucker (b) and Ben Dixon (d). A solid, sensitive trio behind Green, especially Drew. The album’s tracks are Freedom March, Sunday Mornin’, Exodus, God Bless the Child, Come Sunrise, So What and Tracin’ Tracy. The last two aren’t noted gospel songs but they fit right in for any Sunday morning.
Feelin’ the Spirit includes Herbie Hancock (p), Grant Green (g), Butch Warren (b), Billy Higgins (d) and Garvin Masseaux (tamb). The tracks are Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Go Down Moses, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child and Deep River.
Of the two albums, I prefer the first. Sunday Mornin’ has heart and reflective pacing, and its the more hymnal and spiritual of the two with a jazzier flavor. Feelin’ the Spirit is funky and more rollicking, which seems a bit out of character for the soulful Green. [Photo above of Grant Green by Francis Wolff (c) Mosaic Images]
Green remains underappreciated, overshadowed by Wes Montgomery’s broad, commercial thumb. His picking attack, melodic style and rich sound are magical. When I hear Green, I feel his playing and can’t wait to hear more. He really is a deliciously tasteful player. All of these qualities come into play on Sunday Mornin’ and not so much on Feelin’ the Spirit. What may have seemed like a great idea turns out to be ill-fitting and soulless.