"A Bun Dance" - Bennie Green
In his book Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965, David H. Rosenthaul points to the 1960 album Battle Stations, in which tenor saxophonists Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Johnny Griffin trade solos in a blend of R&B and bebop, with its remarkable rendition of the Norman Simmons tune “Abundance.” He mentions of a segmented pronunciation for the song's title, although it is unclear where the hip slang first appeared. Rosenthaul's reference to the 1951 Bennie Green Septet recordings featuring “Lockjaw” suggests that the alternate title of “A Bun Dance” may have originated prior to its 1960 recording. (106-107)
The minor-key tune features a similar form to “Bernie’s Tune,” made popular by the trombone battles of J.J. Johnson & Kai Winding, based around a ii7b5-V7b9 turnaround and a bridge built around the V7 and bVI chords. The phrasing leaves plenty of room to explore bebop harmonies and chromaticisms similar to latin montuno syncopations. Perhaps the most impressive quality of Green’s version, however, is its driving tempo, demonstrating that he could hang with J.J. but crafted his own inimitable sound instead.
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