Bunky Green: Another Place
Bunky Green (alto sax)
Another Place (Label Bleu LBLC 6686)
Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Nasheet Waits (drums).
Composed by Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen.
Recorded: November 27-28, 2004
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Apparently Bunky Green figured out early on that being a superb, even innovative, jazz alto saxophonist was hardly a way to make a secure living. In the 1970s, after having played with Charles Mingus briefly and recording a few albums for independent labels, Green began a distinguished career in jazz education, teaching at Chicago State University before moving to the University of North Florida, where he's now the Director of Jazz Studies. Even as he drifted away from fulltime performing, however, Green's chops never suffered. He's not as big a name as other saxophonists of his generationóWayne Shorter, Jackie McLean and Joe Henderson come to mindóbut he's as original and accomplished an improviser as any of them.
The all-star team of youngbloods fielded by producer Steve Coleman to support Green on this 2004 recording inspires the veteran altoist to incredible heights. Green wastes little time in making the old Burke/Van Heusen standard his own. After a post-boppish intro, he plays down the melody, twisting it with whole-tone and chromatic embellishments. From the first note, he shows remarkable drive and sense of purpose. As his quick-fingered soloing unfolds, he blends inside/out harmonic tactics with a subtle but evident blues sensibility. Moran, Plaxico and Waits are well able to match Green, both technically and emotionally, as the ensemble raises its creative intensity to Coltrane levels. Moran's solo is wonderfully idiosyncratic, as he demonstrates his fealty to the kind of barely hinged harmonic approach heralded by Green.
One can only hope the kids Bunky Green has taught over the years appreciate their prof's artistic accomplishments. It's rare these days to hear straight-ahead jazz played with this kind of passion and sheer inventiveness.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey