Reviews

Solo Performances and Alone CD

“Hilliard Greene bends over his piccolo bass, tenderly. His face reminds me of Paul Robeson’s — a dignified sadness, tinged with anger. For some reason, I picture a purple shawl hanging from Hilliard’s shoulder. He seems to be singing with his body.
Hilliard is performing at the “Projects Room” of the Vision Festival, 2010. At first, there is a small audience, but word of his mastery spreads through the Henry Street Settlement, and the crowd grows.
Hilliard wrote all these compositions himself — except for Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman.” This is the music I have been awaiting for decades, I find myself thinking: post-avant-garde jazz, which uses dissonance and the Music of Battle only when the soul demands, not out of habit. Hilliard’s songs are brainy and populist. He could play his solos at a New York Philharmonic concert and the octogenarian music lovers would cheer. In Hilliard’s music, Aretha Franklin kisses Tchaikovsky.”
– Sparrow – GroundReport.com

“New York bassist Hilliard Greene is no stranger to the New York jazz scene and has been an active studio or stage player for many years in the US with Jimmy Scott as well as the musical director of his backing band The Jazz Expressions. He has also played with luminaries such as Dave Douglas, Kenny Barron, Oliver Lake, Charles Gayle, Jack Walreth, Gloria Lynne and Rashied Ali and other international artists.
This eight track CD entitled ‘Alone’ is just that, Hilliard playing upright bass on his own to six self penned tracks and two covers of Stanley Clarke’s ‘Bass Folk Tune’ and Ornette Coleman’s ‘Lonely Woman / Kum Ba Ya’.
This is a set of wonderfully played compositions which I think is targetted at bass players and jazz connoisseurs. Hilliard is obviously a master player of his instrument and the songs cover a number jazz sub genre’s with influences from contemporary, Eastern, Latin and World styles. It is the sort of CD that you would play before a master bass class and say, “Here is the yardstick, now let’s see what you’ve got”.
I have a feeling that Hilliard is a deep and conscientious musician who has created his own nirvana to integrate into this entire project and whilst I don’t think it will have a general appeal to many jazz fans, it is full of rhythmically succinct ideas and takes on a similar patina to many of the great bassists which have inspired him in the past and present such as Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Michael Henderson, Dave Holland, Eddie Gomez, Stanley Clarke, Charles Mingus, Marcus Miller, Nathan East, Jaco Pastorius and will be essential listening for bass fans.”
– Wes Gillespie – Euro Club de Jazz

“Hearing this album, we can all say we could just never have imagined the bass as a solo instrument that is wholly absorbing and wholly capable with sounds that show the artist knows jazz, classical, South American, and yes, even some colors of the Japanese koto. We can say he has reinvented the bass as a solo instrument. Hill takes center stage as a first class artist, Alone.”
– James Forte – Wildflower Publishers

“OK, an unaccompanied solo in a tune is one thing. A whole concert – well, that’s something else entirely. The thing is, Greene can keep the listener interested – very interested – for upwards of an hour, all by himself. His new album, ”Alone,” is a riveting hour-plus of material, mostly originals, that stand up well as melodic compositions played with passionate dedication. There is a wide range of styles and forms, and there is no risk of boredom among the eight tunes.”
– Steve Greenlee – Boston Globe

“Besides the exciting moving music, there is the amazement of the man’s technique. He is a real virtuoso. Hearing this album, we can all say we could just never have imagined the bass as a solo instrument that is wholly absorbing…”
– James Forte – Wildflower Publishers

“Hill Greene created a resonating musicality, with full focus and emotional pathos… The audience was still and enraptured, as Hill Greene is a musician to watch, as well as one to listen to… Hill Greene has a bright future as Solo Bassist, Composer, Accompanist, and Music Director.”
– Roberta Zlokower – RobertaOnTheArts.com

“Greene, a bass concert player. Very good (4 stars)
Hilliard Greene is an expressive double-bass player with a solid technique…Greene made of his show at Notorious a concert of refreshing features, with fiery solos developed in an explosive way at times, … His double-bass has the sonority like a guitar and continuity in his lines that seem to be pianistically inspired…A Strong presence…
… His language has in a way, a classical vocabulary that is at the same time deeply tied to the blues. There is in his music a strong conscience of the black tradition…”
– Cesar Pardines – La Nacion; Buenos Aries, Argentina (translation by Fernando Hernandez-Moros)

“…Hilliard Greene…can sound like a flamenco guitar one moment and a wailing horn the next”
– Misha Berson – Seattle Times

“…found a copy of your solo CD. I’ve been listening to it a great deal. It’s exceptional, easily one of the best crafted solo bass CDs I’ve heard.”
– Lou Kannenstine – Boxholder Records

“…(Greene’s) work on the upright bass was diverse and committed. On the funk grooves, generally associated with the electric bass guitar, he was convincingly adept, wielding the larger instrument with ease. His solos, whether arco or pizzicato, used the full potential of the instrument, including choral effects and contrivances.”
– Richard Mayer – Green Mountain Jazz Messenger

“Intense. Powerful. Versatile. Not for the faint-hearted. …Hill Greene showed us how it’s done”
– Bass World, Journal for the International Society of Bassists

“With a technical mastery of his instrument that is nothing short of astonishing he churned through a varied and creative set full of fire, brilliance and subtlety that above all never stopped swinging.”
– Bobby Shropshire – Beach Nights Entertainment Magazine – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

“Technically and sonically, Greene’s bass sounds great; his pitch is accurate even during highly technical passages played at breakneck speed, and his sound is deep and clean.”
– John Kennedy – Double Bassist Magazine

“His fabulous arco bass mixes lyricism with a burning, literally ferocious desire of opening the listener’s mind.”
– Massimo Ricci – Touching Extremes, Italy

“Alone sounds like the culmination of one man’s dedication to his instrument, the work of someone who has come a long way, and is determined to show what he can do. Classical melodies, Jazz and Folk music from around the world have been internalized by Greene who proves his talent for pizzicato and arco playing in an equal measure on unaccompanied double bass…Alone is music rooted in the human condition.”
– Jeff Stockton – All About Jazz

“HILLIARD GREENE – double bass
His fabulous arco bass mixes lyricism with a burning, literally ferocious desire of opening the listener’s mind.”
– Massimo Ricci – Touching Extremes, Italy, January 2007

“I found his composition to be extraordinary in its depth of emotion. Hill’s remarkable virtuosity and passion on his instrument and spiritual awareness was ever present throughout.”
– Margot Elizabeth Meyers – Jazzimprov, 2006, NY, USA

“Hill Greene dares to release solo bass recording
For many decades the bass has ceased to be looked at as an accompaniment instrument entirely. At the same time, very few musicians dare to release solo bass recordings. Bassists like Dave Holland, Eberhard Weber, Barre Phillips and Miroslav Vitous have done that very successfully. Among those, we can add the name Hill Greene with his solo bass recording entitled “Alone”.
The name Hill Greene is not that well-known even though he has played with people like Dave Douglas, Cecil Taylor, Jack Walrath, Charles Gayle and with the well-known crooner Jimmy Scott.
He has visited Greece twice to play at Half Note once with “Masters of Suspense” with Jack Walrath and with singer Pucci Jhones. In his personal career, he has released two albums as a leader of “Jazz Expressions” (the group which accompanies Jimmy Scott on his tours). Now he’s adding the album alone.
“To play alone is my favorite mode of musical expression. It’s risky and it needs huge effort, time, thought and practice” says Greene. Understandably, because it’s not easy for one instrument, especially a monophonic instrument, to hold the interest of the listener for more than an hour. But Greene, playing with unbelievable technique, a unique passion and managing not to become monotonous since he changes moods and moves through different styles, holds undivided the attention of the listener from the beginning to the end of the album. When he’s bowing, he plays with the clarity and the musicality of a cellist, and when he plays with fingers, he has a deep, warm and full-of-swing sound.
Bach
His love for the Bach Cello Suites becomes obvious in the way he arranges “Bass Folk Song” by Stanley Clarke, where he starts with melodic arco playing and develops into a recital of speed and virtuosity. He treats the second composition, “Lonely Woman”, similarly. If one does not know this early piece by Ornette Coleman, which Greene combines with his own composition entitled “Kum Ba Ya” and becomes a twelve minute detailed study of the bass, one would certainly think that he has just heard a classical composition.
The same variety runs through the rest of the album which leads us from the bluesy feeling of “Home Health Aid” to the esoteric and classical mood of Iono”, the folk atmosphere of “Juini”, the meditative mood of “Yoyogi”, the fiery speed of “Ode to A.B.” and finally the detailed narration of the ballad “Samantha and Sluggo”.
Even though the unique virtuosity of Hill Greene can capture the mind of the listener, what really sets him apart is his musicality, passion, and dedication to the art.”
– Vangelis Aragiannis – the bimonthly magazine “Apopsi” and the daily “Ipirotikos Agon”, Greece

2 thoughts on “Reviews

  1. Jodie Johns

    Hill,
    I’m DJ’s mother. I want to know where you are playing during the week of April 24-27th. I’ll be in NYC. Are you with Nora McCarthy TRio?
    Jodie Johns

    Reply

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