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Live At The Lighthouse (1972)

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Grant Green

Some of Grant Green's hottest moments as a jazz-funk bandleader came on his live records of the era, which were filled with extended, smoking grooves and gritty ensemble interplay. Live at the Lighthouse makes a fine companion piece to the excellent Alive!, though there are some subtle differences which give the album its own distinct flavor. For starters, the average track length is even greater, with four of the six jams clocking in at over 12 minutes. That makes it easy to get lost in the grooves as the musicians ride and work them over. What's more, the rhythmic foundation of the group is noticeably altered. Live at the Lighthouse is one of the few Green albums of the period not to feature loose-limbed funky drummer Idris Muhammad, and his spare, booming sound and direct James Brown inspiration give way to the busy, bubbling, frequently up-tempo polyrhythms of drummer Greg Williams and extra percussionist Bobbye Porter Hall. They push the rest of the group to cook up a storm on tracks like "Windjammer" (which is taken at a madly up-tempo pace compared to the version on Green Is Beautiful), Donald Byrd's modal piece "Fancy Free" (which features some of Green's best soloing of the date), and organist Shelton Laster's soulful original "Flood in Franklin Park." Laster winds up as probably the most impassioned soloist, breaking out of the pocket for some spiralling, hard-swinging flights. For his part, Green works the grooves with the ease of a soul-jazz veteran used to the concept. The results make Live at the Lighthouse one of his best, most organic jazz-funk outings. ~ Steve Huey