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With You In Mind by Danny Green

San Diego pianist and composer Danny Green is pretty extraordinary. Still in his twenties, he has a firm grasp on a variety of Brazilian and Latin grooves, and puts it all to use in a thoroughly modern way. Perhaps not as aggressive as classic bossa trios like the Rio 3 or Jorge Autori’s group, Green has a buoyancy that’s very alluring. With the exception of one tune, these are all his compositions, and they have the kind of hummability you would expect from classic sambas or choros.

Green is supported on this, his debut as a leader, by Justin Grinnell on bass, Dylan Savage on drum, Tripp Sprague on soprano sax and Allan Phillips on percussion. The band is tight and light, lifting the different grooves off the ground, but also able to play in a sensitive modern jazz bag as well (check the almost Mehldau-esque "Off The Streets"). It’s the sort of group that supports its leader rather than stealing the show: the focus is firmly on Green, and he delivers, whether he’s playing piano, Rhodes or melodica (or melodica and Rhodes simultaneously!).

While so much jazz these days is dominated by navel-gazing a la ECM or mainstream lack of substance, Green instead offers up some fun and happiness. The melodies are buoyant, the band sounds like they’re having fun (without every becoming derailed), and Green is smiling in his publicity pic. I frequently wish people played with a denser harmonic concept, but Green doesn’t make me feel that at all. It’s not that his direction is devoid of harmony or closely-voice chords (like his playing on the lone cover, Danilo Perez’s "Suite for the Americas"), they’re there, but also the openness on the other side of the coin isn’t bland in the least. The only misstep could be the reggae groove on the album opener, "Doctor Pasta". But I’ll let that one slide in the face of all that follows.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Danny Green
  • CD Title: With You In Mind
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Alante Recordings/Pacific Coast Jazz
  • Tracks: Doctor Pasta, Baiao Pra Voce, Para Chano, Jellyfish, With You In Mind, Gigi, Panic Naps, Off The Streets, The Last Minute, Suite For The Americas, Lullaby For A Poet
  • Musicians: Danny Green (piano, Rhodes, melodica), Justin Grinnell (bass), Dylan Savage (drums), Alan Phillips (percussion), and Tripp Sprague (soprano saxophone)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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