It was a rainy first day of autumn and Milwaukee native Bunky Green was back in Chicago for a week at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase. Physically fit, Bunky blows as though he is competing in an Olympic event. His athletic prowess is matched by a sympathetic understanding of the jazz encyclopedia. Playing many familiar standards, he made each one fresh and new with twists and turns from his alto that would make even Bird raise an eyebrow.
The band was composed of Stu Katz on piano and vibes, Larry Gray on bass and Paul Wertico on drums. The group had a playful demeanor and each was a wonderful soloist. Wertico caught the crowd off guard with an amazing drum solo using only his hands.
Bunky was the man. His aggressive approach is a great example of how musicians can play out on straight ahead material. This was evident on an electrifying I'll Remember April. At one point during this solo he blew so hard and intense his spirit seemed to leave his body and elevate to another plane, a la Trane. It was beautiful.