"Penthouse Blues" - Bennie Green
Not to be confused with Sonny Rollins’ “Pent Up House” or the Burton / Jason song “Penthouse Serenade,” Bennie Green’s composition lacks any identifying features to set itself apart from the crowd; there’s no significant melody, it’s a straight-ahead Bb blues, and no virtuosic performance by any individual. Yet, this recording of “Penthouse Blues” captures a small group dynamic that one would expect to hear from a big band.
Green casually leads his group through “Penthouse Blues” almost as if it were a warm-up tune. His trombone solo simply riffs on ideas to imply the blues; the shifting major-minor quality, melodic tension through arpeggios and chord extensions, and a slight use of chromaticism within the blues scale. Without question, Bennie Green could hang with his bebop contemporary, J.J. Johnson, but it’s his use of the big band shout tradition that breathes life into his rhythm section and this performance.
Here is where I usually include a YouTube video example for reference, however there isn’t much existing footage of Bennie Green in general. Perhaps with enough Patreon support, I could create a video of myself working this tune. *cough, cough*
Recommended reading: “Bennie Green: An Appreciation” by Gordon Jack, as appears on Jazz Profiles