Pianist Benny Green played in St. Louis so often during the '90s that you had to wonder whether he went to the trouble of subletting an apartment here. From 1991-94, Green performed in memorable New Year's Eve bashes at Just Jazz. And when he wasn't leading his own group, Green turned up with Ray Brown as part of that legendary bassist's trio.
In 1995, when Barbara Rose moved to Jazz at the Bistro (a few weeks after Just Jazz folded around her), Green, who was one of Rose's favorite pianists, became a fixture on the Bistro schedule as well. He played at the club every year through '98 -- leading his own trios, working with Brown and even performing a solo set as part of a double bill with bassist Christian McBride's own quartet. After that long run of return engagements, Green was absent from the Jazz at the Bistro lineup in both the 1999 and 2000 seasons -- a turn of events that coincided with Gene Dobbs Bradford's succeeding Rose (who died in October 1998) as executive director of the club. Whatever the reason for Green's absence, this three-year sabbatical from St. Louis affords local jazz fans the opportunity to hear his music from a new perspective -- and gives Green a fresh start as well. Judging from the quality of Green's latest solo piano recording, Green's Blues (Telarc), his solo sets this week at the Bistro should be a revelation.