Jazz Guitarist Grant Geissman Keeps Things 'Cool'

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 13, 2009 at 4:57 PM

After a long flirtation with smooth jazz, guitarist Grant Geissman went back to his jazz roots and came up with the most personally satisfying statement of his career in 2006's Say That!, his paean to the golden era of Blue Note-Riverside-Verve with obvious nods to the likes of Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Horace Silver, and Jimmy Smith.

For his follow-up, Geissman reveals a wildly eclectic streak on Cool Man Cool. From scorching bebop to Latin jazz romp to poignant ballad to jaunty Hot Club of France tribute, with touches of calypso, second line grooves, shuffle blues, greasy organ-fueled funk, and '50s-styled exotica along the way, Cool Man Cool showcases a wide range of Grant’s musical interests.

"The original idea was to try and write in different jazz or jazzy styles that I thought were cool," says Geissman. "Hence the title. Then as the project developed it also became about inviting some old friends of mine that I've always thought were cool to come play. So that became the dual concept of the project—cool music I like to play, cool people I like to play with."

To that end, Grant invited a whole host of stellar guests, including Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Tom Scott, Russell Ferrante, Patrice Rushen, Jerry Hahn, Mike Finnigan, and Van Dyke Parks, to help him realize his vision. Along with a core group of bassist Trey Henry, drummer Ray Brinker, and saxophonist Brian Scanlon, Geissman has fashioned a project that radically shifts stylistic gears from track to track.

"I think I must have musical ADD," he says, laughing, "because I can't stay on the same vibe too long, certainly not across a whole record. I either don't have the attention span, or the way I like to play encompasses more than just one genre at any time. I like the idea that just when someone thinks they have a handle on what the music—or my playing—is about, they hear the next track and go, 'Oh!' But I think it somehow hangs together."

(Adapted from Bill Milkowski's liner notes)

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