Pianist Green, 28, plays hard bop (bebop's tough, glinting successor), but he has a beautiful soft spot for melody. On Greens, his fourth album, Green and trio mates Christian McBride (bass) and Carl Allen (drums) set the mood with the pianist's droll, bluesy title cut, built around McBride's lean and lively lines. On standards like "Time After Time," Green swings vigorously without losing the tune's musical sense, whereas on the traditional "Battle Hymn of the Republic," he loses his way in florid, overemphatic gestures.
Green's high regard for melody helps him avoid some of the pitfalls of hard bopping—nothing here is done too long or too indulgently. As he writes in the liner notes, "We're looking to have fun, not solely for the approval of other musicians but as a way of expressing the joy of being alive."
This Berkeley, Calif., native may be still in thrall to his many influences—among them Bud Powell, Errol Garner and Horace Silver—but that hasn't kept him from trying out his own repertoire of voicings. Greens is both a tribute to these masters and a testament to Green's own inventiveness. (Blue Note)