VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
19 JUN 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Pianist Benny Green delighted an enrapt audience with a solo recital in the intimate confines of UCLA's Fowler Museum recital hall. Moving through two sets of standards, he demonstrated not only his well-documented technical prowess, but also a deep understanding and command of the stylistic language of jazz piano.
Green is commonly associated with Oscar Peterson, due in part to Peterson's choosing him as Toronto's first recipient of the Glenn Gould International Protégé Prize, and bassist Ray Brown, a long-time Peterson colleague, hiring him to play in his trio.
But, Green showed he is much more than a standard-bearer of the Peterson school, as he moved from Peterson's dynamic chromaticism to Shearing-style lock-hand voicings to Earl "Fatha" Hines stride, sometimes all in the same song. He also showed versatility and wit in his choice of material, moving from a jaunty "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" to an inspired "Moment's Notice" (truly the high point of the evening) into a thoughtful "I Can't Get Started."
This concert series, the David Abell Memorial Jazz Salon organized by the Friends Of Jazz at UCLA, includes a Q&A session at the end of each performance. Green showed himself to be as engaging a raconteur as he is a player, charmingly boyish and self-effacing as he spoke about his early years and influences. The evening was topped off when Kenny Burrell, legendary jazz guitarist and head of the Jazz Studies program at UCLA, presented Green with a lifetime achievement award called the "Musician's Musician" -- an honor that fits Green like a glove.