"Been Walkin'" - Bennie Green
A contemporary of J.J. Johnson and the bebop generation, Bennie Green is often overlooked when compared to the trailblazers of jazz trombone. Yet in this blues solo, Green has a deep understanding of the bebop language through his use of the dominant b9 and b5 that lead into the next passage, while his phrasing remains rooted in blues rhythm and soul feeling. Perhaps the most significant influence on Bennie Green’s interpretation of jazz came from growing up on the south side of Chicago.
Recorded in 1959, “Been Walkin’” is a relatively simple blues melody compared to what the beboppers did with the blues; perhaps it was a reaction to the 1954 Miles Davis version of the Richard Carpenter tune “Walkin’,” which itself was most likely a version of the 1950 tune “Gravy” composed by Jimmy Mundey, credited to Carpenter, and recorded by Gene Ammons, as noted by jazz historian Gordon Jack, who also points out that the trombonist played on that original recording of “Gravy.”
In the jazz era defined by the harmonic exploration of song form and performance, Bennie Green’s resistance to chase that high level of dexterity was a significant rebuttal to bebop and a challenging artistic statement.
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