The master of cool, unhurried playing, Grant Green always chose every note carefully. Originally playing Gospel and Rock ‘n’ Roll around his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, Green moved to New York in 1960 and signed to Blue Note as a staff guitarist. He backed many Jazz artists before releasing acclaimed albums of his own, such as Green Street and Am I Blue.
If you want to play this piece this convincingly, you’ll need to have confident alternate picking, timing, and swing. Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on:
Green liked to emulate sax lines using long phrases made up from 8th notes, arpeggios, and chromatic embellishment, all careful chosen to lead through the harmony but never really sounding ‘outside’. This phrase starts off with 16th notes before roaming down a relaxed line based on the superimposition of G Dorian Mode over the C7 chord (or you could view it as just the C Mixolydian Mode).
Slightly more pronounced triplets in this phrase, which flows down the C Minor Pentatonic. Notice the chromatic flow in bars 5/6 (9th fret, 8th fret, 7th fret on the D string), which could imply F Lydian b7. The final bar spells out C13 before a fast flurry back into G Dorian Mode territory.
This one falls chromatically down to the G9 chord (from the end of bar 8), then uses a Blues Scale line over the C7. Check out the killer final phrase, the last 6 notes of which spell out the upper harmony of the C Mixolydian Mode. This is taste and economy – typical of Green’s fantastic playing.
As always, below the YouTube video you’ll find the backing track to play along with, and below that, the tablature. Aren’t I nice?!
Feel free to ask questions or just share your thoughts in the comments!