Jerry Granelli Trio +3 What I Hear Now
From muscular to meditative, drummer/composer Jerry Granelli’s music spans a continent-wide range of expressiveness. Like the man himself — whose work in San Francisco’s free jazz scene of the ’60s to present day in Halifax’s vibrant creative scene — What I Hear Now embodies a range of experience, feelings and belief. With tenor saxophone great Mike Murley, along with fellow reedmen Dani Oore and Andrew MacKelvie, Granelli’s horn arrangements are in good hands. “Run Danny Run” features sax double trouble, with Murley and Oore ripping it up, underpinned solely by Granelli’s brawny beats.
“Prologue,” with bassist Simon Fisk, and “Another Place” feature the leader’s haunting writing for saxophones without his pulsating percussion to move things along. The horns intertwine, rising and subsiding, their sounds imbued with longing. “The Swamp” is a funky closer, a tricky, darting line with bluesy solos by trombonist Andrew Jackson, MacKelvie. Murley, Oore and wrapping up with a master class in drum musicality from Granelli. What I Hear Now is a strong statement from a man whose lifetime commitment to music resonates in every track. (Addo Records)
Jerry Granelli: What I Hear Now (2015)
This is what master drummer Jerry Granelli hears now: a wide variety of left-of-center music that circumvents strict harmonic corralling, thanks to the absence of guitar or piano, and makes good use of multiple horns. Of course, if you catch Granelli a few months down the road, he might hear something completely different.
Over the past half a century, Jerry Granelli has been making his mark by being his own man. Who else but a staunch individualist could make his initial splash(es) by holding down the drum chairs in the Vince Guaraldi Trio and the Denny ZeitlinTrio. And that was just the beginning for this inside-outside talent. Subsequent work supporting everybody from saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom to guitarist Robben Ford solidified Granelli’s reputation as a sideman, but it’s his leader dates that really show the scope of his imagination.
For nearly three decades, Granelli has been cranking out creative music under his own name—about twenty albums in all, including sessions with two guitars, outré duo dates, horn-heavy outings, and more. Here, Granelli builds on the trio he has with bassist Simon Fisk and saxophonist Dani Oore, adding two other saxophonists—Andrew MacKelvie and Mike Murley—and trombonist Andrew Jackson to the mix. The resultant music, not surprisingly, is highly eclectic.
What I Hear Now opens with “Prologue,” a number that finds saxophones in search mode, looking to and fro for answers. “Run Danny Run” keeps the focus on the horns, but Granelli joins in, contributing to the pointed rhythmic dialogue that urges the song forward. Then there’s the desert stroll of “Walter White,” grounded by the bass-drum hookup of Granelli and Fisk; the noir-ish “Mystery,” a number which is smoky and wholly seductive; the slinky and hip “Dance For Me”; the slow-moving, horn-centered “Another Place”; and “The Swamp,” a killer odd-metered groove number that never feels odd. In less than forty minutes, Granelli convincingly covers more ground than plenty of other musicians could cover given several albums worth of space.
Track Listing: Prologue; Run Danny Run; Walter White; Mystery’ Dance For Me; Another Place; The Swamp.
Personnel: Jerry Granelli: drums; Mike Murley: tenor saxophone; Dani Oore: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Andrew MacKelvie: alto saxophone; Andrew Jackson: trombone; Simon Fisk: 3 string bassetto. Record Label: Addo Records
WHAT I HEAR NOW
Veteran jazz drummer/composer Jerry Granelli has long been a major presence on the East Coast music scene. A truly versatile musician, he was part of the Californian free jazz and psychedelia scenes of the ’60s, has played with Sly Stone and Vince Guaraldi, and has recorded over 20 albums as a leader and/or soloist. On his new album as a bandleader, What I Hear Now, he serves up adventurous and free-spirited jazz, ably abetted by his combo, The Jerry Granelli Trio +3, featuring Canadian sax great Mike Murley. There’s a suitably funky groove to “The Swamp”, “Walter White” breaks good, not bad, and “Another Place” is a mellow treat. Definitely a Juno nomination contender. the album shows that, on the cusp of 75, Granelli remains a vital force.
JERRY GRANELLI/What I hear Now: A former side kick of Vince Guaraldi has chosen to be the white, Canadian Sun Ra over the years and shows us that here by taking jazz to way out places with space as only it’s first stop. Too skilled to drop pots and pans music on you, this is improv displayed righteously in a way out way as tempered by lots of after hours stuff in San Francisco in the 60s. An AARP member certainly not ready to go gently into that good night, young ‘uns with restless spirits ought to gather round and listen up if they want to know how to chase this cosmic groove the right way.
: MIDWEST RECORD-Lake Zurich, IL-Volume 38/Number 211 – May 30, 2015 - CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
There are points in our lives, which seem like highlights. 1987 was one for me, which set me on the path to this recording.
Moved from Seattle to Nova Scotia, Teaching in Berlin,– doing my first two cds as a leader, meeting producer Lee Townsend, recording the cd.
“A song I heard Buddy Sing”— people entering my life. Basically another new chapter unfolding.
An unknown desire to create a body of work as leader composer, a great inspiration was the work of Max Roach.- I remember seeing Max Roach in New York City just before he died in 2007. I walked into Carroll Music on 55th and could not believe my eyes. At 83, that man had rented a room and was in there…practicing.
When I look back from here I see 20 recordings.
Each of these people and places had a different yet profound effect
in getting me here.
Why do I write music? How do I write music?
If I could stop, maybe I would…
I absorb what is around me, I write for the musicians that I am playing with at the time; their voices, their sound finds its way into my head. I write what I hear.
It is all about the story for me, allowing the music to tell me a tale, a libretto that I have to work with.
Bill Frisell and Robben Ford, I could just taste the music they could make together then Michael Ondaatje’s work inspired the recording “A Song I thought I heard Buddy Sing”. There were these narratives and these sounds. My Sandhills Reunion recording went the other way—an Octet with words and stories by Rinde Eckert. I was writing an aural screenplay for an expansive landscape.
This latest recording was me hearing the sound of Mike Murley and Dani Oore together, two tenors. Over a winter I began to write. I was playing weekly sessions with a group including Andrew MacKelvie – alto sax and Andrew Jackson – trombone. Two young improvisers living in Halifax. Great horn arrangements are always bouncing off the walls in my head.
All this came two or three years after I formed my first trio with Simon Fisk on bass and Dani Oore. I realized that they/we, became the foundation. The trio allows me to create and write for this always-expanding orchestra that has been haunting me for almost thirty years.
I have always loved playing with Mike Murley and here was a chance to go into the studio to create something together. When we were recording each of the players came to the music with their own voice, but it was always there to serve the music. They seamlessly combined what I had written with inspired improvisation. And I brought together two generations of Halifax horns.
We worked hard and we found a balance, that place between too tight and too loose.
This is What I Hear Now
ON ADDO RECORDS
Thanks to: mike dani simon andrew andrew mike, for bringing there energy to the music.
DARREN AT Sonictemple, for putting up with me always trying to make it better.
colin mackenzie, for friendship and patience with me.
Steve at addo, for releasing this music, Paul for introductions
And to all those who helped me along this journey, friend and foe alike.
All music © Alexis Music 2015
FUNDED BY FACTOR
We acknowledge the financial support of FACTOR, the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters.