Saxophonist Bunky Green bristles at the idea of playing by the rules. On more than one occasion, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin native was on his way to jazz stardom, but each time his principles guided him elsewhere. This is a significant reason why the highly influential musician has mostly remained unsung and out of the spotlight for decades, instead focusing his energies on his role as a leading jazz educator. For the past two decades, Green has served as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of North Florida at Jacksonville.
During the early days of his career, Green took over for Jackie McLean in Charles Mingus' band in 1960. The legendary bassist's adventurous spirit and willingness to push boundaries, often at the risk of commercial success, proved highly influential on Green's artistic psyche. In 1961, he relocated to Chicago, where he recorded and performed with luminaries including Sonny Stitt, Yusef Lateef and Andrew Hill, while also propelling his solo career forward with albums such as Testifyin' Time (Argos, 1965) and Playin' for Keeps (Cadet, 1966).
Unhappy with how he was treated by labels and the music industry in general, Green began transitioning into jazz education in the early '70s. He taught at Chicago State University from 1972 to 1989, while sporadically recording. During the late '70s, he released three albums for the Vanguard label: the commercially oriented Transformations (1977) and Visions (1978), as well as the uncompromising Places We've Never Been (1979). Places We've Never Been features six expansive post-bop pieces with an all-star band including Randy Brecker, Eddie Gomez and Freddie Waits. It's particularly notable for its first track, "East and West," which finds Green exploring the cultural and aural influences of a trip to Algiers.