Grant Green: It Ain't Necessarily So


It Ain't Necessarily So


Grant Green (guitar)


The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark (Blue Note 57194)

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Grant Green (guitar), Sonny Clark (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Art Blakey (drums).

Composed by George & Ira Gershwin


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 13, 1962


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Some of Grant Green's most memorable recorded tracks happen to be of long duration, such as "Idle Moments" and "Nomad" (both from the sublime Idle Moments session) and "It Ain't Necessarily So." The latter wasn't released until 1980, a year after Green's death, on a vinyl LP titled Nigeria, even though it was recorded in 1962. It was one of Green's three quartet dates with pianist Sonny Clark, and the only time the guitarist recorded with the inspirational Art Blakey. Add the engineering acumen of Rudy Van Gelder, and the ingredients for a masterpiece were all in place.

As Ben Sidran so perfectly puts it in his liner notes, "Grant plays the head in a totally unexpected series of phrases, altering the original melody to such an extent that he might as well have called the song 'So It Ain't Necessarily' and taken the publishing for himself." Blakey starts out in a Latin mode, but quickly turns the rhythm into a bluesy shuffle. Green solos at length in typically linear fashion, with a piercingly metallic, twangy tone. He returns to certain runs and riffs that seem to serve as reference points for a highly animated improvisation, further stimulated by Blakey's propulsive backbeat and Clark's expertly crafted chords. When Green lets loose with a particularly unrestrained riff, Blakey responds vocally and can be heard grunting and shouting from that point on, even during Clark's ensuing solo. Clark blends concise runs, riffs and tremolos, as if taking his cue from Green, and when he eventually plays the Gershwin melody straight, it comes as a complete surprise after all that has transpired. Green then embarks on heated exchanges with the hammering and press-rolling Blakey before going back to the restructured theme that leads to a fadeout ending.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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  • 1 Lee // Mar 26, 2009 at 09:41 PM
    Out of all the Grant Green album's I've heard, this is my all time favourite. I always wondered who it was cheering and shouting in the background on "It Ain't Necessarily So"; cool to find out it was Art Blakey. Must have been a blast being at that particular recording session. Sure sounds like they had a good time!