Bennie Green was one of the few trombonists of the 1950s who played in a style not influenced by J.J. Johnson (Bill Harris was another). His witty sound and full tone looked backwards to the swing era yet was open to the influence of R&B. After playing locally in Chicago, he was with the Earl Hines Orchestra during 1942-1948 (except for two years in the military).
Green gained some fame for his work with Charlie Ventura (1948-1950) before joining Earl Hines' small group (1951-1953). He then led his own group throughout the 1950s and '60s, using such sidemen as Cliff Smalls, Charlie Rouse, Eric Dixon, Paul Chambers, Louis Hayes, Sonny Clark, Gildo Mahones, and Jimmy Forrest. Green recorded regularly as a leader for Prestige, Decca, Blue Note, Vee-Jay, Time, Bethlehem, and Jazzland during 1951-1961, although only one further session (a matchup with Sonny Stitt on Cadet in 1964) took place.
Bennie Green was with Duke Ellington for a few months in 1968-1969 and then moved to Las Vegas, where he spent his last years working in hotel bands, although he did emerge to play quite well at the 1972 Newport Jazz Festival and in New York jam sessions.
My Blue Note Obsession
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“His execution is clearly defined, non-exhibitionistic and liberally impregnated with the devices and
characteristic phrasing of the be-bop style, yet he always manages to retain something of the real jam