"Blue Mambo" - Bennie Green

“Blue Mambo” (PDF) from the Bennie Green album, Swings The Blues.
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The beauty of Bennie Green’s playing is in its simplicity. A simple blues in which his phrasing either outlines the chord or leads to the next chord through the use of extensions (b7, b9, 6). The melodic tension and release gives weight to the rhythm and swing.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been to New York City or Cuba, and all I only know about mambo music is from West Side Story, but I do know that mambo is meant for dancing. In the third chorus of Green’s trombone solo, he trades a riff with saxophonist Jimmy Forrest in a call and response manner, its rhythm mimics the shout backgrounds of the big band era. Whether it was an improvisational moment in the performance or a pre-arranged section meant to launch into the piano solo, the use of shout rhythms provides the music and dance with a frenetic energy.


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