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Watch the Green is Blue online guitar lesson by David Hamburger from 50 Jazz-Blues Licks You MUST Know

Grant Green’s arrival on the New York scene in 1959-1960 is in many ways the classic overnight success story - one in which the succeeder in question actually spent years under the radar honing his or her chops before getting exposed to a broader scene. Green was a working musician in St. Louis, playing gigs and doing his thing, when altoist Lou Donaldson (see Son of Donald and Do the Lou) heard the guitarist on a swing through town.

Donaldson, then recording for Blue Note records, brought Green to the attention of label partner/co-founder/producer Alfred Lion, and Green was soon in New York recording on a Donaldson session. Lion swiftly arranged for a date with Green as a leader, seen by many as an indication of how taken Lion was with Green - the more general policy at the label was to give a new musician a much longer trial period doing sessions with others in the stable before getting a session of one’s own. And interestingly, Lion may have felt he’d been overly hasty, as Green’s initial date, with no less a rhythm section than Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, was shelved (though released four decades later as First Session).

The guitarist’s follow-up organ-trio date, with Baby Face Willette and Ben Dixon, however, evidently passed muster, as it was released in 1961, launching one of the most prominent jazz guitar careers of the 1960s.