JazzTimes (11/96, p.88) - "...the guitarist's fat sound and unflappable technique...serve these tunes especially well....And, as it turns out, these tunes serve Green especially well, with melody lines as bright and uncluttered as his own solos..."
Personnel: Grant Green (guitar); Ike Quebec (tenor saxophone); Johnny Acea (piano); Wendall Marshall (bass); Willie Bobo (drums); Carlos "Potato" Valdez (congas); Carvin Masseaux (chekere).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on April 26 and September 8, 1962. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
Digitally remastered by Ron McMaster.
Grant Green, being known mainly as a soul jazz guitarist, eventually gravitated into the popular boogaloo sound. The Latin Bit is the natural bridge to that next phase, though a bit premature for most in 1961-1963, even relative to the subsequent bossa nova craze. Pianist Johnny Acea, long an underrated jazzman, is the nucleus of this session, grounding it with witty chops, chordal comping, and rhythmic meat. The Latino rhythm section of drummer Willie Bobo and conga player Carlos "Patato" Valdes personify authentic, seasoned spice, while at times the chekere sound of Garvin Masseaux makes the soup too thick. At its collective best, the group presents a steady, serene, and steamy "Besame Mucho" and the patient, slow, slinky, sultry "Tico Tico." Just a small step below is a classy take on Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes," a premier jazz bebop (emphasis) tune with a Latin undertow and Green's tiniest staccato phrases, slightly marred by the overbearing constant chekere, but still classic. "Mama Inez" ranks high for its calypso-infused happy feeling and wry stop-start lines. The straight-ahead hard bopper "Brazil" and lone soul-jazz tune, "Blues for Juanita," display the single-note acumen that made Green's style instantly recognizable. This date always yielded mixed results for staunch fans of Green, but it remains a credible effort, even if slightly flawed in part. [Some reissues add two selections with pianist Sonny Clark and tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec, the latter of whom plays hip secondary harmonies on the bossa nova-flavored "Granada," but is in the complete background and a non-factor on the pop tune "Hey There."] ~ Michael G. Nastos