Benny Green, David Wong, and Rodney Green
When: Friday, June 5
Where: Raven Theater
115 North Street, Healdsburg
Time: 7:30 pm
Reserved Tickets: $65 | $45
Benny Green Trio
On the list of Bay Area-born and/or bred jazz musicians who have gone on to great heights in the global jazz scene, pianist Benny Green ranks highly. He brings his bone-deep jazz fluency, subtle mastery and advancing aesthetic to the Raven Theater. New York-born, in 1963, but raised in Berkeley, California, Green burst out of the East Bay in the early ‘80s and quickly became a masterful young prodigy most likely to be picked up by jazz icons seeking out bold young “old souls” such as Green. His resume includes an early high profile run with the finishing school of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, working closely with Ray Brown, with jazz singer’s jazz singer Betty Carter, Oscar Peterson, Freddie Hubbard and many others.
- Interview with Benny Green about playing with Art Blakey (video)
- Benny Green trio in concert (video)
All along, the hard bopping, tradition-absorbed Green has delved into and evolved his work as a leader and co-leader, including mastering the tried and true piano trio form, which we’ll get a sturdy dose of in a trio with bassist David Wong and drummer Rodney Green (no relation). Benny Green’s full-bodied and exciting 2013 recording Magic Beans, on Sunnyside, marked a high point in his discography, with the first set of all original tunes, and references to some of his favorite musicians who have informed his musical voice, on songs such as “Kenny Drew,” “Jackie McLean” and “Paraphrase,” which paraphrases Ellington’s iconic “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”
Green has plenty of swing, along with restless invention and a formidable pianism in his favor, not to mention the maturing depth of a former adolescent prodigy going ever deeper into his musical future. In particular, the pianist has mastered the special challenge and tradition of the jazz piano trio and is presently in good, big-eared company with bassist Wong, whose past work has included the Eric Reed Trio and Roy Haynes’ “Fountain of Youth” band; and drummer Green, a Philadelphia-bred young drummer of choice whose work has included a stint with Diana Krall, starting at age 19.
A perpetual student of the history of Jazz piano, the pianist mentions Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Phineas Newborn, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson as some of his main influences. Benny Green’s approach to Jazz can be resumed in his own words: “… for myself and a lot of musicians I admire, the main focus is to just swing and have fun, and share those feelings with the audience … and, if I’m able to convey that, then I feel like I’m doing something positive.