Danny Green




Print this page

Add Favorites

Danny Green

Over the past decade, Jazz pianist and Origin Records recording artist Danny Green has earned recognition as a bandleader and as a composer with a gift for spinning supple, absorbing narratives. Green’s growing portfolio of vibrant sounds – an enchanting mix of jazz, classical, and Brazilian rhythms – has captured the attention of critics around the world, including DownBeat Magazine, Jazziz, San Diego Union Tribune, the Boston Globe, and Public Radio International. It’s no small wonder that Danny Green has earned two San Diego Music awards for Best Jazz Album and an additional award for Best Jazz Artist. His long-time trio includes bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm, noteworthy musicians in their own right, and together they have developed a nearly psychic connection as they perform Green’s original compositions and jazz standards. Green takes listeners on a journey that is equal parts introspective and exuberant, and always compelling.

Danny Green talents

Green's talents have taken him from the Blue Note in New York City to the Blue Whale in Los Angeles, and his work has been featured in DownBeat Magazine, Jazziz, the San Diego Union Tribune, The Boston Globe, NPR, and JazzEd. According to JazzReview.com, “Danny Green is what evolution in jazz is all about, expressing the traits of those that came before him, with a style and panache that is all his own…an individual who expresses what is inside of him.”

Danny Green album

Danny Green revealed his unique talents on his 2009 debut recording With You In Mind. The album received extensive airplay around the globe, rose to #18 on the Jazz Week Charts, and won “Best Jazz Album” at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards. In 2012, Green teamed up with Tapestry Records to release A Thousand Ways Home, featuring Justin Grinnell on bass, Julien Cantelm on drums, and Tripp Sprague on sax, as well as a talented cast of guest artists inducing guitarists Chico Pinheiro, Peter Sprague, and Dusty Brough, Brazilian vocalist Claudia Villela, and mandolinist Eva Scow. A Thousand Ways Home received numerous rave reviews nationwide, rose to #17 on the Jazz Week Charts, was voted into KSDS Jazz 88.3’s “Top Ten Jazz Releases of 2012,” and was nominated “Best Jazz Album” at the 2013 San Diego Music Awards.

In 2014, the Danny Green Trio, comprised of Green, Grinnell, and Cantelm, released the highly-acclaimed album After The Calm on Origin/OA2 Records. Featuring ten of Green’s compositions, the album received much praise from the press and nationwide radio play, and won “Best Jazz Album” at the 2015 San Diego Music Awards and was nominated for “Album of the Year.”

The Danny Green trio recorded their 2016 release, Altered Narratives, at New York City’s famed Sear Sound recording studio with award-winning producer Matt Pierson. Released on Origin/OA2 Records, the album consists of eleven original compositions by Green. The three tunes at the center of the album feature the trio with a string quartet led by violinist Antoine Silverman, a widely admired New York classical and studio player. All About Jazz critic Dan McClenaghan commented, “There’s nothing that adds a touch of elegance to a jazz set more than an adeptly-done string arrangement, and these are superb; violins, viola and cello in a sinuous, sometimes whispering embrace with a vibrant, top-notch piano trio, delving into Danny Green’s distinguished compositions.” The album remained on the Jazz Week Top 50 chart for fourteen weeks and earned high praise from critics worldwide.

The Danny Green Trio Plus Strings released its first full length album, One Day It Will, in 2018. The album features San Diego Symphony violinists Kate Hatmaker and Igor Pandurski, violist Travis Maril, and cellist Erica Erenyi. One Day It Will was featured in DownBeat Magazine, Jazz Weekly (selected as “Ringer of the Week”), CD Hotlist (selected as “Pick of the Month”), The New York City Jazz Record, Mercury News, and Long Islander News, among many other press outlets. Jazz da Gama called the album, “one to die for.” The album remained on the Jazz Week Top 50 charts for five weeks and was featured multiple times on Public Radio International’s nationally syndicated Jazz After Hours.

Green has brought his Trio Plus Strings to venues throughout the United States. The group debuted in 2016 at New York City’s Shapeshifter Lab, and since then has maintained a steady performance schedule, including shows at Huntington Summer Arts Festival (NY), TEDxSan Diego at Copley Symphony Hall, KSDS Jazz 88.3’s Jazz Live (San Diego), Portola Vineyards Summer Jazz Series (Los Altos, CA), The Blue Whale (Los Angeles), An Die Musik Live! (Baltimore), and Rockwood Music Hall (NYC). The Danny Green Trio Plus Strings was selected to perform at the prestigious Western Arts Alliance Juried Showcase in 2017.

Danny Green is highly devoted to music education. Green and his trio have given clinics and masterclasses throughout the United States. In addition to his work as a private piano instructor, Green is a faculty member of the annual Jazz 88.3 Summer Jazz Workshop, adjunct faculty at Grossmont Community College, and he presents a jazz appreciation workshop at elementary schools as part of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library’s outreach program. Danny Green directed the jazz ensemble at Coronado School of the Arts from 2014-2017, and was an artist in residence at Canyon Crest Academy and at CSU Summer Arts Monterey.

Related Listings

Country United States
City San Diego
State/Province California
Performer Type Musical Act

21 responses to “Danny Green”

  1. Susan says:

    [This pianist] shows flexibility in his playing and expansive knowledge of jazz music’s artifacts as demonstrated by the compositions on his debut solo CD……. seems to move through walls or at least moves the barriers of jazz to include new ideas, and [this album] is proof of his endeavors.
    Susan Frances – JazzReview.com (Oct 20, 2008)

  2. Chris says:

    …[this artist] is a piano man that fuses jazz with vacation vibes and stirs up his own gumbo along the way. Easy, slinky fun listening, this isn’t serious jazz for moldy figs, it’s play time music when the vibe has to be light and joyful. With a special talent for letting the good times roll, this piano jazz is simply tasty throughout. Check it out.
    Chris Spector – MidwestRecord.com (Oct 24, 2008)

  3. Paul says:

    [These tunes] are the wonderful toe tapping real thing that makes a sound like jazz transcend into so many different musical sounds across the board, overall…not a bad track in sight on this disc. [This artist’s] sound is still in the making, yet this debut album from this brilliant young artist is yet a tease of what is sure to come in the future. A definite hit on the new ‘Jazz Parade’, enjoy this one folks, I am.
    Paul H. Jordan, Sr. – Review Point (Dec 28, 2008)

  4. Kirk Silsbee says:

    Double bills haven’t been part of the Los Angeles jazz landscape for long. The complimentary booking of pianists Danny Green and Josh Nelson and their bands may not have been sufficient to draw comparison to the era when Billie Holiday and her trio alternated sets with the Red Norvo Band at Billy Berg’s, but it was certainly an inspired pairing. The Blue Whale, a couple of blocks away from where Charlie Parker made his last stand before his six months in Camarillo, is presently the town’s finest showcase for cutting-edge music.

    The two thirty-ish pianists are both lyrical players with a fair amount of classical study under their fingers. It’s easy to say they’re progeny of Bill Evans, who introduced the harmonic language of Impressionist composers like Ravel and Debussy to the jazz vocabulary, but that characterization is too simplistic.

    True, Green and Nelson have a grasp on modern pastel lyricism. But listen closely and you’ll hear awareness of a number of other piano innovators (and classical composers). Of course, Herbie Hancock hovers over both pianists like the patron saint of creative strategies and happy accidents.

    Green, bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm gave a very fine accounting of the working trio format. They’re up from San Diego to promote Green’s current Altered Narratives album (OA2). Three cuts on the CD are augmented by a string quartet, and it doesn’t take much to imagine Green’s compositions fleshed out by larger ensembles.

    His pieces often flow, and there can be a natural, unforced quality to Green’s writing. At the Blue Whale, “Friday At The Thursday Club” had a stately melancholy in its theme, and the tune was a good place to savor Green’s beautiful touch on the keyboard.

    As the trio boosted the intensity of the tune, the lines became circular, in part from the long bass tones. The tango-like “Porcupine Dreams” conjured the string backgrounds as its tempo and dynamic swelled and subsided.

    If “Thursday” was circular, “Katabasis” was a whirlpool, albeit one with funk-filled shifts of rhythm. Grinnell switched to a five-string electric bass for this one, and Cantelm’s sticks danced on his trap set. He was a resourceful drummer who knew all the sweet spots on his kit. Best of all, he dealt them out judiciously over the course of the set.

    “Second Chance” began life as a classical piece. It changed identity midway so that the stiff-upper-lip theme morphed into one of wistful longing. The orchestral color was left to the mind’s ear, a delicious little exercise.

    A fractured solo piano introduction grew the listener’s ear for a minute before the contours of the imperishable “All The Things You Are” emerged. Better pianists than Green have tried to disguise that tiger’s stripes and haven’t been able to do it. Taken as a rolling shuffle, Grinnell proved he could tell a complete story in one chorus, this time on the double bass.

    “Down And Out,” a new Green composition, touched on the blues, and revealed the pianist to be closer to Wynton Kelly than Otis Spann. On the compellingly rhythmic “The Merge,” Green leavened his sparkling lyricism with a little aggression that would have turned up the corners of Red Garland’s mouth.

    Nelson fielded a quartet of alto saxophonist Josh Johnson, bassist Anna Butters and drummer Christian Newman. The room was the site of a couple of yearly gigs that Nelson turned into multi-media shows—with dramatic lighting, slide projectors and screens, multiple keyboards, dancers and the like. But this night it was strictly music.

    Their opener, “The Architect,” had a floating, indiscernible time quality, as Johnson’s vibratoless alto skipped, hopped and made blues allusions over the theme. The ensemble fulminated to a high pitch before dropping dramatically down to a teacup-dynamic ending. “Old Friend/Bhutto Song” was a kind of peristaltic lope, played with an appreciable regard for space by all.

    Nelson introduced the newly written “Orlando” for the recent Florida atrocity. It was a reflective waltz, and as Johnson ruminated in the lower register, the piano brushed in the background with full, color-laden chords.

    While Butters doesn’t display the La Faro-like facility that Grinnell occasionally dips into, her solo never wasted a note. Neither did Newman throw anything away. He somehow had the simultaneous air of carefree abandon and careful deliberation. His loose, understated swing was so contained that when he gave a bash to a cymbal, it was almost shocking.

    Johnson contributed the one non-Nelson tune to the set, his “Jeanine.” It was a feature for his angular alto phrasing, but the three-way rhythm section conversation going on behind him was a marvelous study in musical exchange. It was telling that Nelson gave the same degree of concentration to Johnson’s piece as he does his own.

    Hancock’s “Oliloqui Valley” had Butters playing particularly strong lines as she locked in with Newman’s percussive drive. After Nelson gave an object lesson in using space to shape his horn-like phrases, a peppery drum chorus exploded before the tune touched down with a whisper. It was quite a way to end a night of exhilarating music.

    By Kirk Silsbee

  5. Kirk Silsbee says:

    Emerging San Diego pianist Danny Green shows off his composing and improvising skills in this low-key but well-conceived collection of originals by the leader. The trio, with bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm, displays admirable cohesion.

    As a pianist, Green has an affinity for the probing, personal statement. He’s comfortable with slow tempos and low dynamics, and an underpinning of classical music is unmistakable on “October Ballad” and elsewhere. The long, sturdy tones of Grinnell’s bass support “Ballad” with quiet strength, and Cantelm, a fluid and graceful drummer, is especially poignant on this autumnal tune.

    Green shines brightest on “Chatter From All Sides,” “Merge” and “Serious Fun”—sprightly romps that are all akin to the dancing ebullience heard in fellow pianist Monty Alexander’s playing.

    Green augments the trio with a string quartet on three titles (“Katabasis,” “Porcupine Dreams” and “Benji’s Song”). His writing is reserved and often stately, and the string arrangements expand on the trio’s work. The graceful, aquatic movements of the compositions exemplify the pianist’s masterful arranginging. It would be a pleasure to hear Green write for bigger formats, and one can only expect continued growth.

    By Kirk Silsbee, DownBeat Magazine

  6. Robert Bush says:

    Danny Green is a virtuoso San Diego pianist who has been making strong records for several years now, (his debut album “With You In Mind” hit the shelves in 2009) but in all the years he’s been around, his latest effort “Altered Narratives” represents a breakthrough achievement on several levels.

    Green has always been a monster player and his working trio with double-bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm are tighter than Mitt Romney’s jaw at a Donald Drumpf testimonial — yet his previous recordings occasionally struck me as overly facile and less than sanguine.

    From the opening strains of “Chatter From All Sides,” a slinky blues with soulful tinkling, everything seems transformed. Green manages to activate motion without being fulsome, and Grinnell’s solo also benefits from the relaxed pace which allows one to concentrate on the fine details of his gorgeous tone.

    Even on the note-heavy arrangement of the Chick Corea-like “Merge,” Green allows for breathing room, which facilitates finer point appreciation, like the marvelous percussive chatter of Cantelm, who drives this band with a subtle ferocity.

    With six years under their belt, Green’s trio evokes an exquisite sense of balance, deftly realized in the pensive “October Ballad,” where the pianist’s lush harmonic sense is absolutely convincing.

    “Altered Narratives” is Green’s second release on the OA2 Records label, following last year’s award-winning “After The Calm,” but this one is different in several respects, including location (Manhattan’s Sears Sound Studio) and the welcome addition of a string quartet featuring Antoine Silverman and Max Moston on violin, Chris Cardona on viola, and Anja Wood on cello.

    You don’t hear the full group until “Second Chance,” but the rewards are immediate and palpable. Green’s keen melodic sense has always been his calling card and this tune is one of his most memorable. The strings also achieve an active integration on “Katabasis,” blending with Cantelm’s intricate ride cymbal and Green’s joyfully ebullient keys.

    I was taken aback by the second-line parade feel of “Serious Fun,” driven by Cantelm’s detailed snare work which inspired exuberant solos from all, and in keeping with the theme of this record, discretion proves the better part of valor.

    Serious fun indeed, from young Green and company.

    By Robert Bush, NBC San Diego

  7. Erik Friedlander says:

    Unapologetically cheerful and light, this trio set from pianist Danny Green, bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm offers up a pop music style of jazz that beams a wide smile that means it. Intriguingly, planted smack dab in the center of the recording are three pieces that bring in a string quartet. The shift in sound is very much plumb with what preceded it, but the emotional impact provided is one that balances nicely with the lighthearted warmth of the trio tunes that surround them. It’s the kind of thing that makes a recording a little less ordinary, as well as a motivation to keep giving the album a spin.

    By Erik Friedlander, This Is Jazz Today

    See review at BirdIsTheWorm.com

  8. George Harris says:

    By George Harris

    Pianist Danny Green’s trio has been a solid team, backing up artists such as vocalist Roberta Donnay. Here, Green shows his composing and arranging skills match his tactile talents with Justin Grinnell/b and Julien Cantelm/dr as his pieces such as “Serious Fun” and “October Ballad” show a range from Crescent City stomps to late night candelabra. Cantelm and Grinnell form an attractive restlessness underneath the lyrical ivories on “The Merge” and the nifty “I Used To Hate The Blues.” Most intriguing is Green’s adroit addition of a string quartet for a trio of tunes. “Second Chance” has the piano and strings yearn and sigh, while Anja Wood’s cello delivers longing long tones on “Katabasis.” Rich harmonies highlight “Porcupine Dreams” creating a swirl of delight, while everyone drops out for Green to show his wares on the lyrical “Benji’s Song.” Highly rewarding and thoughtful-he’s coming to LA at the end of the month at the Blue Whale; check it out!

    See review at JazzWeekly.com

  9. Raul da Gamma says:

    By Raul da Gama

    In Altered Narratives Danny Green and his trio have handed us an amazing and deeply moving performance. No nonsense. No funny rhythms, no smart-alecky melodic inventions. Just old fashioned music as beautiful as beautiful music can be. All eleven pieces have been composed by the Green, a pianist with an extraordinary touch, and are immediately attractive compositions. Each us easy in the ear, played with highly euphonious style and virtuosity and not too long. All are kicked off by Green who treats us to pianism that is almost symphonic in nature. He makes full use of the keyboard with arpeggios that spin giddily and rums that defy gravity. Each of his fingers together or separately makes the keys and notes sing. You often wish pianists may treat you to something like this, but it takes someone as special as Danny Green to make it happen.

    The music is tactile. ‘October Ballad’ might be inspired by and conjure up the warmth of an embrace. ‘Benji’s Song’ starts out like a wonderful 21st century version of Saint-Saëns’s aquarium in Carnival of the Animals, then turns into something entirely original and thrilling. Other songs such as those in which the trio is augmented by the string quartet – ‘Second Chance,’ ‘Katabasis’ and ‘Porcupine Dreams’ – come as close to the ‘poetry of sound’ as any music might. They are so beautifully written that it is hard to imagine a piano trio, enriched by a string section, not wanting to add them to their repertoire. The delightful skitterings of the lively, dancing ‘Serious Fun’ make for an ideal close to an album that celebrates entirely charming and captivating music by a trio that sounds as it was made in heaven.

    This is also some of the most gorgeous and personal music that you will hope to hear. It lets you in on its secrets that seem to open themselves out to the world the way one might discover a lonely cabin in the woods inhabited by a sage. It is a discovery like this which opens up a world that seems to have existed forever in a place of warmth, where notes and lines swirl, leap and prance in the rustling wind that whistles through a sacred forest seemingly hidden from a world that might disturb and pollute it. Such innocence and beauty is almost breathtaking.

    See review at JazzdaGama.com

  10. Travis Rogers says:

    By Travis Rogers, Jr.

    Altered Narratives is Danny Green’s fourth album, his second on the OA2 label (OA2 22128). His exemplary trio (Justin Grinnell on bass and Julien Cantelm on drums) have explored Brazilian themes and have captivated the West Coast Jazz scene with their tight, albeit lyrical, expressions.

    Danny Green composed all of the tracks for Altered Narratives and the album was recorded at the famed Sear Sound in New York City. The results are amazing.

    The album opens with the bluesy Chatter from All Sides. According to Green, the writing was occasioned by being in the middle of his children playing. The different voices are evidenced in the trio’s differing expressions. The 16-bar theme is joyous and heart-warming. Grinnell’s bass solo is a grin from ear-to-ear. The whimsical drumming of Cantelm is equally infectious.

    The Merge is cool conversation between Green and Grinnell. Sometimes in agreement, sometimes not. Cantelm is impressive and the whole trio is percussion on steroids. Green’s solo is riveting playing. This completely grabbed me. You will see what I mean. Grinnell takes his own solo and reveals his own perspective on the conversation. The tight blues closes out coolly.

    October Ballad is one of the most lyrical pieces on an album full of such pieces. It is a touch of melancholy from the pen of one who knows how to evoke emotions from his listeners. I won’t say it is brooding—too fluid for that—but it is a reminiscence. It calls to mind emotions and moments that have left a mark but not a scar. Then comes the Grinnell bass solo as the piano recedes for a moment. Rarely do I hear a bassist as purely emotional as he can be. Lovely tune.

    6 A.M. is a hot rhythmic piece. It recalls the baião patterns of Brazil and it just smokes. It creates the imagery of getting up early, still only half-awake, before taking on the day. This thing moves in such tight turns and swings just the way we like it.

    Second Chance sounds like it could have come from one of the love songs of European late-Romanticism. Toward that end, a string quartet joins in and completes the impression. Once again, the word lyrical must be used to describe the movement and expression of this incredible, indelible artistry. The chord changes, the lilting phrases are gorgeous. Green’s piano work is fabulous. Captivating.

    Katabasis follows after with the string quartet still aboard. The cello of Anja Wood opens the string section. The piano and strings are precise and exacting. Grinnell and Cantelm are tight and the pizzicato strings add a pop to the piece that spins away from the established orbit. Katabasis was the Greek word referencing Orpheus’ journey to Hades to rescue his beloved Eurydice. The piece contains all that imagery and emotion, moving from darkness to almost-light before Orpheus looks back to see Eurydice snatched away again.

    The quartet remains for one last piece with Porcupine Dreams. The trio opens the piece with the strings in the backdrop. It is an overwhelming melody that is beautifully supported by the strings. Grinnell’s bass echoes elements of the theme which Green reassumes. Green has a way of writing that—so help me—I have never witnessed before. He can reflect moods and create an Aristotelian catharsis like few can. He finds the fine line between melancholy and joy and that is as real to life as it gets. The rhythms of this piece are as fascinating as the melodies are.

    Benji’s Song is for his son of the same name. It is splendidly elegiac, tender, and loving. It is far too short, like childhood.

    I Used to Hate the Blues is nothing but the Blues. The song came out of a concert where everyone was charged with bringing in songs based around the idea of “Things I Love That I Used to Hate.” I Used to Hate the Blues came out that concert. The trio paint their Blues together and separately. This is a fun bit with tongue-in-cheek spins and turns that belie the title. These guys were born for the Blues.

    Friday at the Thursday Club is again one of those melodically, emotionally fascinating pieces that has come to mark Danny Green’s compositions. Lyrical—that word again—and tight, the song is dazzling in its color and shade. Grinnell again gets a solid and flavored solo with which he mesmerizes the listener. Cantelm’s patterns are spot-on and the piano just takes the breath away. How does Green choose those chords? Seriously, the guy is brilliant.

    The album is wrapped up with Serious Fun. Cantelm kicks it off with some jaunty rhythms. The bouncy Blues is clearly a hallmark of the trio and they just own it. Grinnell hops up the bass solo and the rattling rim shots of Cantelm followed by his own solo and then trio in unison to close is just fun…serious.

    Danny Green Trio’s Altered Narratives is one of the most intriguing, evocative, intelligent, creative, and haunting albums I have ever heard. Ever. The compositions are so gripping, the artistry is so overwhelming, and the effect so staggering that it firmly places this trio in the must-hear category. This is one of those very few albums that will keep a permanent spot on my CD shelf. If the album alters anything, it is the narrative of what is possible in a Jazz trio.

    See review at The Jazz Owl

  11. Ric Bang says:

    By Ric Bang

    Pianist/composer Danny Green was born and brought up in San Diego, California. He took piano lessons until he was 12; from that point, influenced by rock, he became self-taught. He delved into Latin sounds and began to write in that idiom, then earned an undergraduate degree in piano performance at UC San Diego … and went on to earn an M.A. from San Diego State University.

    This is his fourth album. As with his prior releases, he utilizes a trio — bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm — as the primary format, supplementing with a string quartet on three of the 11 tracks: Antoine Silverman and Max Moston, violins; Chris Cardona, viola; and Anja Wood, cello. Green composed and arranged all of the charts.

    The album menu is a combination of two genres. The trio’s mid- to up-tempo tunes are tied to the blues, while the string section appears on tracks that evoke 19th century European classical music. “Chatter from All Sides” and “The Merge” are 16-bar blues based, while “October Ballad” and “6 AM” are more balladic, the latter evoking a Latin-tinged mood. The tunes with the string section occupy the “middle” of the album, followed by additional bluesy pieces that conclude the session with a neat, groovy feel: “Benji’s Song,” “I Used to Hate the Blues,” “Friday at the Thursday Club” and “Serious Fun.”

    These artists are clever; they know how to swing, and they work together impressively. (No fluffs or errors allowed!) Spending an evening with them would be a joy.

    See review at Jazz Scan: http://www.jazzscan.com/2016/08/the-danny-green-trio-altered-narratives.html

  12. Jonathan Frahm says:

    By Jonathan Frahm

    When jazz enthusiasts think of pianist Danny Green, it’s hard not to first skitter on by the brilliance of his trio’s 2014 effort After the Calm. Sustaining a sunny, jaunty collection of top-notch playing married by a robust, coherent overall mood throughout, the Danny Green Trio could say that the album marked their first claim to fame within the realm of instrumental jazz. This is especially true considering the idea that these three men were playing like they owned each composition brought to the table, as it were written by one of them in Green. What the trio manages to do in Altered Narratives that it couldn’t do in After the Calm, however, is prove that lightning can in fact strike twice.

    Once again joined by bassist Justin Grinnell and percussionist Julien Cantelm, Green and his troupe once again muster what sounds like a classic collection of piano jazz standards in their performances of Green’s own creations. Green himself showcases even more instrumental might behind his fingers, playing with an amalgamated love for intrigue, amusement, and reverie without missing a step between the two brilliant musicians that have joined him once more to bring that much more life to his proceedings than could have been achieved purely on his own. Altered Narratives is a great jazz record, on the overall, and it is exciting just thinking of where the trio may take us next.

    See review at Pop Matters: http://www.popmatters.com/review/danny-green-trio-altered-narratives/

  13. Paul Hormick says:

    By Paul Hormick

    Danny Green has established himself as one of the best jazz pianists and composers in Southern California. His second CD with his trio, Altered Narratives, displays the individual talents of Green, bassist Justin Grinnell, and drummer Julien Cantelm as well as what this unit has evolved into since the band’s inception five years ago.

    The trio’s first CD, After the Calm, had Green and his band mates dashing through some “Giant Steps” changes. This was the band at play, and it was like listening to a bunch of kids in a musical romper room. For Altered Narratives Green wrote numbers with longer chord patterns, allowing himself and his bandmates more room to stretch out.

    With Altered Narratives Green wants less to play around and is trying to communicate on a deeper level with his listeners. The disk thus winds up being a more inviting musical experience. I enjoyed After the Calm immensely; the playfulness of the trio was delightful. But I wound up being more moved at the greater sense of depth that comes across with Altered Narratives.

    What sets apart a great number of jazz performers is the melodic structure of their solos. Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, and Django Reinhardt (when he wasn’t blistering the fingerboard with two-finger lighting) created solos that you could almost sing along with. Green shares in that capability, creating lines that are highly inventive and nonetheless quite musical. His usually restrained comping with his left hand accentuates some of the lightness and lyricism of his solos.

    In the five years this band has been together Grinnell and Cantelm have grown into a solid rhythm section. The familiarity and trust that develops in that amount of time gives both of these musicians a great deal of freedom in their roles. Also, the interactivity they share with Green makes this a particularly exciting trio.

    While not a suite, Green adds strings to three of the tunes in the middle of the disc. Among these, my favorite is “Porcupine Dreams,” which, by the end of the tune, turns into an engaging battle of the tempos.

    There are 58 minutes and 47 seconds of music on this disk, just one minute and 13 seconds shy of a full hour! As usual, I give out bonus points for CDs that contain as much music as they can. Eight and a half bonus points for Altered Narratives!

    Recorded in New York City at Sear Sound, the sound, production, and recording quality of this disc are tops. The ambiance, which adds a lot of warmth and verve to this recording, sounds natural, coming from the acoustics of the room, rather than reverb and echo added later on the board. The piano sounds great, with a lot of clarity and depth. A shout out to whomever tuned the instrument. Great job!

    Another solid effort from the Danny Green Trio, Altered Narratives is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys jazz performance at its best.

    See review at San Diego Troubadour: http://sandiegotroubadour.com/2016/05/danny-green-trio-altered-narratives/

  14. Mike Gates says:

    By Mike Gates

    San Diago born composer/pianist Danny Green has been influenced by many styles of music over the years. From early adventures into grunge rock, listening and learning to play Nirvana tunes, through to studying and developing a passion for Latin Jazz, in particular guitarist/composer Guinga, and on to a deep love of 19th century European classical music, including Wagner, Mahler and Ravel. It is perhaps this rich tapestry of sound that has led him to take all these influences on board and develop his own style of writing and performing. What is quite striking about “Altered Narratives” is the freedom with which the musicians appear to approach things; this being largely a jazz trio album – and one of the finest I have heard this year. A string quartet features on three of the tracks mid-way through the album, and again the arrangements and performances are a pleasure to behold. Despite the pianist’s wide-ranging influences (or indeed, because of, I should actually say), this is very much a jazz album in the clearest of contexts; great writing, great musicianship, great vibe. Sounds simple, but it rarely is. The moods and grooves created are stimulating to the ear, with the pianist’s melodies and lyrical approach to music making ringing out in joyous fashion. There’s a wonderful feel to the whole session, and although jazz is at the core of it all, there are plenty of musical flavours that enrich the recording; blues, Latin, swing, classical and contemporary folk being just some that I would highlight. The tunes themselves are like short stories, with each and every tale branching off, sometimes sincere and in ernest, sometimes playful and adventurous, yet always with a consummate skill and passion.

    “Altered Narratives” is Green’s fourth album release. Making up his trio are drummer Julien Cantelm and bassist Justin Grinnell. And it is in fact Grinnell’s bass riff that pulls the listener in on the opening track “Chatter From All Sides”, a deliciously bluesy number. The feel of the tune, and indeed, the riff itself, immediately reminded me of an old Hancock/Metheny/DeJohnette track from their surprisingly little-known scorcher of an album “Parallel Realities”. As with the vast majority of “Altered Narratives”, it is the skill of the drums and bass that add so much to this tune. And when Green plays the blues, the piano shimmers with a gorgeous, infectious life-giving resonance that rewards the listener with all of its depth and beauty. “The Merge” is a tune that is so full of lyrical spirit, it just flows effortlessly, textural and colourful in its themes, as if in pursuit of something that can never quite be found, searching, twisting, turning, The evocative “October Ballad” embodies the pianist’s gift for crafting emotionally evocative motifs. Inspiration often comes from many directions, and the late night gin joint reverie of “I used to hate the blues” came out of a concert Green participated in, along with Southern Californian jazz scene officianados the brothers Sprague, where everyone agreed to bring in tunes pertaining to the theme “Things I love that I used to hate”. The three tunes at the centre of the album offer up a change of style somewhat. Whilst on some levels one could argue they seem a little out-of-place in the context of the album as a whole, the strings add a different dimension, and are arranged and performed in such a skillful way that one can’t argue with the quality of the resulting pieces of music. The most intricate and beautifully unsettling of these tunes, “Katabasis”, takes its name from a Greek literary term that can refer to visiting the underworld. From the darkness there is light, visionary and real. There’s plenty more riveting and exploratory trioism yet to be heard though, with the threesome on fine form, intelligent, intuitive and inspirational. And then it’s back to the blues that the pianist clearly now loves, for the closing track “Serious Fun”, a kind of bar-room boogie meets manically depressed effervescent and over-the-top party clown…kind of tune.

    Danny Green and co. deserve recognition for this album. A proper trio, making great music together. The development of Green as a writer and performer is perhaps explained best by the man himself; “I have always been the type to immerse myself in one genre of music, artist or composer for months to years at a time. From Nirvana, ska, and Latin Jazz, to Brazilian music, straight ahead jazz and Wagner operas, all these different musical phases that I went through helped shape who I am as a pianist and composer”. May your journey continue on Mr Green. I look forward to hearing the musical delights you create in the future.

    See review at UK Vibe: http://ukvibe.org/sans_frontier/danny-green-trio/

  15. Bruce Crowther says:

    By Bruce Crowther

    Although all the music heard here is composed by pianist Danny Green, everything is redolent of the rich history of jazz piano. Danny’s musical career has ranged widely, including grunge rock, ska, Cuban son and especially the music of Brazil.

    He has brought all of these elements into jazz with seemingly effortless ease, in the process substantially broadening his audience appeal. Danny leads his trio (Justin Grinnell, bass, Julien Cantelm, drums) on a musical journey that draws upon the blues (Chatter From All Sides, I Used To Hate The Blues), as well as classical form (Second Chance, Katabasis, Porcupine Dreams), with other elements from Danny’s eclectic musical background. On those last three named tunes the trio is joined by a string quartet, Antoine Silverman, Max Moston, violins, Chris Cardona, viola, Anja Wood, cello). This very attractive album will appeal to all lovers of jazz piano.

    See review at JazzMostly.com

  16. Justin Cober-Lake says:

    By Justin Cober-Lake

    If the opening of the Danny Green Trio’s new album nods to Bill Evans and reflects the way that tradition carries a strong role in pianist Green’s compositions and playing, the title Altered Narratives suggests that there’s more going on here than just a new entry in the trad jazz storyline.

    Any gamesmanship in the album comes across less as a commentary on narrative and more through Green’s persistent playfulness. That opening track “Chatter from All Sides” comes from the experience of kids at play, and the joy and rowdiness there sets the tone for the rest of the disc. Green’s piano dominates the piece (as it does the album), but when bassist Justin Grinnell solos, he picks up the bounciness, letting a spry run eventually echo Green’s chordal vamping.

    A sense of humor comes out even in dimmer moments. “I Used to Hate the Blues” is, of course, a blues number, and fits the sort of traditional structures in which the trio seems most at home. The smoky opening turns almost giddy by the middle of the number before Green regains his composure. The title’s tongue-in-cheek, but the playing’s as earnest as it is fun.

    Green wisely varies the mood, though, not settling for album-long romp. “October Ballad” is what you think it is, and the trio again show their strength in playing within form. Grinnell takes a longer stretch here in an enthusiastic solo that makes its statement with careful planning an articulation. When Green takes over, the tone is thoroughly autumnal, and he maintains the mood as much with his phrasing as with the melody itself.

    The trio’s most noticeable alteration comes with a three-piece sequence in the middle of the album where they’re joined by a string quartet. “Katabasis” features the quartet, with the violin out front, taking the ensemble to places that are dark but not brooding (Green’s light touch helps here) before circling upwards, letting Green’s runs provide a brighter sort of energy.

    The album closes, fittingly, with a track called “Serious Fun,” another blues progression (really, what’s to hate?) that could serve as the trio’s theme song. The group sounds as tight here as they do anywhere, maybe because drummer Julien Cantelm provides his funkiest turn. The song, like the rest of Altered Narratives offers an exuberance, usually connected to the joy of playing both with and within tradition. As serious as this business is, Green never means to put the emphasis on that part of it.

    See review at Dusted: http://dannygreen.net/reviews/dusted/

  17. Rick Anderson says:

    By Rick Anderson

    On his fourth release as a leader, pianist Danny Green does something highly unusual and impressive: he gives us an album that consists entirely of what is, in every discernible way, straight-ahead piano-trio jazz, with no wild harmonic or structural experimentation, but which nevertheless sounds entirely personal and original. It’s really kind of frustrating: I keep listening and trying to figure out how he does it, and I keep failing. Now, I should point out that three of these tracks feature a string quartet in addition to his trio, and that could reasonably be characterized as an example of structural experimentation. Fine, whatever. Nevertheless, even on those tracks this music feels both entirely straight-ahead and entirely new and personal, and dang if every single tune isn’t utterly gorgeous and engaging. The field of piano trio recordings is a densely crowded one, and standing out in it is tremendously difficult. Danny Green sounds like he’s doing so almost without effort. How does he do it?

    See review at CD Hotlist: https://cdhotlist.com/2016/04/04/april-2016/

  18. Owen McNally says:

    By Owen McNally

    Before settling down and committing himself to jazz, blues, classical, and Brazilian music, the rising, young West Coast pianist/composer Danny Green immersed himself for long periods of time in numerous genres, artists, and composers.

    He fell in love with and romancing everything from ska and the grunge flights of Nirvana, to the musings of Mahler and epic grandeur of Wagner operas.

    “All these different musical phases have helped shape who I am as a pianist and composer,” Green said modestly of his evolution into a rising force on the Southern California jazz scene.

    His eloquent eclecticism — a gift that includes writing anything from celebratory blues to meditative reflections to composing for a string quartet — illuminates his sparkling new trio release, Altered Narratives.

    As part of his coast-to-coast, ten-city tour to promote his disc on OA2 Records, the award-winning, San Diego-based pianist leads his tight-knit, hard-swinging trio on Saturday, April 2, at 8:00 pm at Middletown’s jazz-friendly Buttonwood Tree at 605 Main Street.

    Green’s first love, he said, was grunge rock, which led to two years devoted to studying the music of the iconic grunge band, Nirvana.

    Following his own bliss from his Nirvana experience, he fell hard for Jamaican ska, an affair yielding his first taste of torrid, freewheeling improvisation, a foreshadowing of the seductive allure of jazz freedom.

    In what he describes as “something of an epiphany,” he saw “The Buena Vista Social Club” documentary, which sparked a yen for Cuban son, which led to his romance with Latin music and working in local salsa bands and writing in a Latin jazz idiom.

    All these serial love affairs, plus his academic studies (he has both a bachelor’s and master’s), his individual sensibility and a variety of musical assets — including a bright touch and swinging, articulate phrasing — come together on the moods and grooves that dance through Altered Narratives, his fourth recording as a leader.

    Right from the opening track, Chatter From All Sides, the crisp, interactive sound of the trio is center stage, a dramatic motif throughout.

    The combination of Green’s keyboard craft, bassist Justin Grinnell’s booming tones and drummer Julien Cantelm’s continuously sizzling commentary make this band of three far more than the sum of its parts.

    The collaboration soars to its brightest heights on Green’s “I Used to Hate the Blues,” a blues-drenched, vibrant studio piece. Its crackling, interactive energies might well make you anticipate an even higher sizzle rate in a live performance stoked by playing in a warm, empathetic venue like The Buttonwood.

    Besides being a guru of grooves and blues, Green can also write pensive, dreamy ballads, as on his aptly named, deeply autumnal tune, “October Ballad.” As a maestro of morphing moods, he creates an evocative, eye-opener called “6 A.M.,” which awakens from a fading reverie, becoming suddenly caffeinated and, with all senses heightened, joyfully dances to a sexy Brazilian groove.

    As a sign of Green’s love for European classical music — his favorite composers include Mahler, Ravel and Wagner — he’s written three pieces for his trio and a string quartet, the centerpiece being a dark, mystery-shrouded number called Katabasis. The title for this exotic piece, we learn, takes its name from a Greek literary term for visiting the underworld.

    Green’s notes from the underground narrate a mini-odyssey unfolding from a mournful, minor blues feel to illuminating chords leading to the light at the end of the tunnel. Cellist Anja Wood, who has performed with artists ranging from Pearl Jam to Ray Charles, plays a lush, luminous solo, shedding light and the promise of resurrection from the Stygian, yet miraculously pleasant, murky depths.

    See review at wnpr.org

  19. Mike Greenblatt says:

    By Mike Greenblatt

    The Danny Green Trio provides “Altered Narratives” (OA2 Records) on their fourth CD. It’s a panoply of influences from blues, swing and European classical to Northeastern Brazil’s folkloric baiao music. Bandleader/pianist/composer Green, who has a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from San Diego State University, played nothing but Nirvana songs until he discovered ska at 14. At 19, he heard the Buena Vista Social Club for the first time and immersed himself in Cuban son music. This led to working in salsa bands.

    These “Altered Narratives” come complete with a new love, blues, as demonstrated by the honestly-titled “I Used To Hate The Blues.” Bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm share the blues spotlight as well as adding immeasurably to totally entertaining tracks like “Serious Fun” and “Chatter From All Sides.”

    Still, the obvious highlights here are the three tracks with a string quartet augmenting the trio. Here’s where Green has stretched into compositional sophistication as he wrote the parts for the heavenly strings. He claims he heard the two violin/viola/cello parts in his head before committing them to paper. The three tracks in question–“Second Chance,” “Katabasis” and “Porcupine Dreams” are what sets this particular trio outing apart from all others.

    See review at GoldMineMag.com

  20. Thomas Jacobsen says:

    By Thomas W. Jacobsen

    Today is my birthday! Just another day on the long journey to….where? I’m going to celebrate it by making brief note of one of my favorite new recordings–in fact, it is scheduled for release today!

    I am referring to the newly minted CD by the Danny Green Trio called Altered Narratives. It features Green, piano; Justin Grinnell, bass; and Julien Cantelm, drums–a lovely combination that is augmented mid-record on three numbers with the addition of a string quartet composed of Antoine Silverman and Max Moston, violins; Chris Cardona, viola; and Anja Wood, cello.

    Green is a wonderfully lyrical pianist and composer–all the music here is his originals–and, unlike much of today’s original jazz, this music is melodic and eminently listenable while managing to swing. It reveals him as a musician of varied tastes/​influences, from the blues (“Chatter from All Sides”) to Brazilian (“6 A.M.”) to the classical (I was particularly taken by the slightly unsettling darkness of “Katabasis”)–not to mention his major gift for balladry (“October Ballad” being the most striking, in my opinion).

    All in all, I was truly taken by this CD. It came as something new to me, but it does not seem to be the thirty-something pianist’s first. I recommend it without qualification.

    See review at New Orleans Notes

  21. Lance Liddle says:

    By Lance Liddle

    It’s always a delight to discover a new talent although, as I’ve reviewed a previous album by Danny Green, perhaps new isn’t quite the right word. In my defence, that was back in 2012 and you know what us reviewers of a certain age are like for remembering!

    Well, I was knocked out by that album and this one doesn’t hurt either! In a bygone age, the Danny Green Trio would be rated alongside Oscar Peterson and all the others downwards. With Oscar long gone, it’s trios, such as this. that keep the flag flying for piano jazz. I’d love to have heard him on Marian McPartland’s legendary radio show.
    The three tracks with the string quartet are as fine an example get of ‘Chamber Jazz’ as you are likely to find on a long night’s listening. They’re quite beautiful and not at all schmaltzy.
    Green, who resides in San Diego, believes that music should tell a story and the titles give the listener much inspiration to bring their own take on those stories although mine disagreed with Danny’s! But that’s the beauty of music – the picture it creates.

    The trio are very integrated with bass and drums simpatico. I mentioned Oscar earlier but, listening again, the name that springs to mind is Bill Evans. All About Jazz says, “One of the important up-and-comers on the scene today” – can’t argue!

    See review at Bebop Spoken Here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + 1 =