Load remaining images Load remaining images This weekend, resident guitarist extraordinaire of The New Mastersounds, Mr. Eddie Roberts, honored jazz guitarist Grant Green with his tribute to the pioneering musician dubbed “Green Is Beautiful” after Green’s 1970 release by the same name. Roberts invited other friends to join him in celebrating Green’s work, tapping Alan Evans (Soulive, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe) on drums, Chris Spies on keys, Alex Scott on bass, and Nick Gerlach (Turbo Suit) on sax to round out the crew, with Thievery Corporation’s Jeff Franca sitting in on bongos following his own performance at the Fillmore Auditorium on Friday night. On the heels of 4/20, the name of the tribute might have seemed tongue-in-cheek to some, but together, the collection of enviable musicians went above and beyond in showcasing the beauty of Grant Green’s music.Roberts’ “Green Is Beautiful” tribute first debuted in September of last year as part of the line-up for Bear Creek Bayou in New Orleans. After its success in the fall, Roberts brought the project home to Denver and, in addition to rotating in new musicians to share in commemorating the frequently unsung jazz guitarist of Blue Note Records, expanded it to two nights, hitting Cervantes’ Other Side this past Friday and Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox on Saturday. In seeing the group perform, it’s immediately apparent that this is a passion project for Roberts. His love of Grant and his work is undeniable, shining through both in his meticulous playing and stage banter. It’s charming to see the acclaimed guitarist so excited to share Grant’s music with others, readily dropping bits of knowledge and instructing listeners to carefully pay attention to specific elements of certain songs.For Friday’s performance at Cervantes’ Other Side, the setlist primarily focused on Green’s work from the late 60’s and 70’s during which Green’s style was reinvented with a more funk-inflected sound, all of which are perfectly suited for an ensemble featuring members of the New Mastersounds and Soulive. From the first songs, “Upshot” off Green’s 1969 release Carryin’ On and “The Selma March” off 1965’s His Majesty, King Funk, the band was in proper form, easily settling into the slinky, laid-back grooves of both numbers. “Latona” was a slow burner from Big John Patton’s Let ‘Em Roll (featuring Green on guitar), gradually building throughout with Eddie Roberts’ mercurial guitar dancing over the song’s latin base and kept together by Alan Evans’ tight work behind the kit (eliciting Roberts to note that Evans “is the only drummer that I’ve heard play this right” outside of Otis “Candy” Finch on the original album).“Farid” was another number that stood out, as the group was clearly enjoying themselves (“I’ll have to add this to every set I ever play,” said Roberts laughing after the number), with the song steadily propelled forward by Alex Scott on bass and Evans’ cascading drum rolls, ultimately culminating in a drum solo for Evans where he let loose to show off his chops. It was followed by a stellar rendition of “Windjammer,” a buoyant and pulsating tune for which Roberts’ explosive guitar stylings led the way.After a break, during which special guest DJ Marcos Boricua returned with his funk-focused vinyl-spinning after kicking things off for the night, “Green Is Beautiful” picked up right where they had left off, this time with the addition of Jeff Franca of Thievery Corporation. Their first song, “Hey Western Union Man,” kept the crowd dancing after Boricua’s intermission music came to an end, with Nick Gerlach and Chris Spies building the melodic, groovy track to its climax. Gerlach again lent his expertise on sax in building up the next song, “Fancy Free,” working in and out of Roberts’ whorling guitar licks.During “Ain’t It Funky,” the title of the song rang true, with Chris Spies fiery stand-out performance behind the keys leading into a brief drum break giving Franca and Evans a moment to shine on percussion with one another’s company. The drums taking the spotlight recurred again in “Walk In The Night,” with the dark, grinding drums eventually dropping in volume to allow a dramatic return to the song’s main theme showcasing Eddie Roberts’ pristine and decisive guitar. Perhaps one of the crowd’s favorites of the night was “Day In The Life,” a nostalgic and happy-go-lucky carried by Eddie’s energetic playing.Friday night’s show at Cervantes’ was a stellar showcasing of both Grant Green’s work and the immense talent of those playing throughout the night. The audience members lucky enough to be in attendance at these intimate shows witnessed something special on Friday and Saturday night, something that we can hope will continue to be shared with the world with more future performances of Eddie Roberts’ “Green Is Beautiful” tribute. You can check out galleries of photos from Friday night’s performance at Cervantes courtesy of Gary Sheer (first gallery) and of Saturday night’s performance at Ophelia’s courtesy of Alan Westman (second gallery).