Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grant Geissman: Studio Jazz Guitarist

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Grant Geissman's latest CD looks like a five-inch homage to the album-cover artist Jim Flora, with a cartoon of the guitarist serenading a bikini-clad redhead on the cover, and a collage in the center spread crammed with beatnik musicians, cats, birds and a pink elephant. The disc itself is designed like a vinyl record, complete with fake grooves.

Musically, Geissman takes a step into the past too, abandoning his smooth-jazz track record in favor of rootsy sound based in soulful hard bop, with a little New Orleans and upbeat melodies that still go down smoothly without the gloss.

From the Horace Silver-influenced title track to "Theme From Two and a Half Men," which gives the guitarist and Brian Scanlon (on soprano sax) a chance to blow over the sitcom theme, Geissman proves himself to be no wallflower when he puts his mind to it. But often tracks like "Bossa," with wordless vocals by Tierney Sutton, or "Wes Is More," with an excessive section of traded fours and twos with organist Jim Cox, come off more like bossa nova and blues without the necessary roughness.”

- Mike Shanley Review of Grant Geissman’s Say That! CD in JazzTimes APRIL 2006

“Grant Geissman's third in a trilogy of wildly eclectic outings once again has the versatile guitarist indulging in more than a few of his favorite things. From loping funk to boogaloo to earthy blues shuffles, with a haunting ballad, a beautiful samba and an urgently swinging post-bop romp thrown into the mix —along with touches of classical, flamenco and zydeco — he covers all the bases with authority on “Bop! Bang! Boom!
'It's all stuff I'm interested in and like to play, so it just comes out," says the San Jose native who is well known for his improvised guitar solo on Chuck Mangione's 1978 pop crossover hit 'Feels So Good* and more recently for co-writing the theme for the hit CBS-TV sitcom Two and a Half Men ("Men, men, men, men, manly men!*] ‘I have eclectic tastes and the way I play and write follows that. And since this album is on my own label, I get to do what I want!’”
- Bill Milkowski, liner notes

“One of the reasons I created my own label, Futurism, was so that I could explore anything I wanted—which to me is what an artist is supposed to do.”
- Grant Geissman

Like his counterpart, guitarist Lee Ritenour, who is affectionately known as “Captain Fingers” for his legendary ability to play any style of guitar at a moment’s notice, Grant Geissman really knows his way around a recording studio.

Grant is a Pro’s Pro: he brings it; he lays it down; it’s perfect. No need for another take. It’s done. Let’s move on.

Given the amount of money that record producers have to spend to develop an album, Grant’s ability to make it happen and to make it happen right the first time is why he’s first call on most contractor’s lists.

Grant also understands the technical aspects of the studio; he's savvy about the processes involved with making a recording. Whether it’s the sound board, the mix, the use of electronics and synthesizers to create and enhance the music, Grant knows about this stuff.

More importantly, Grant knows enough about all of these elements of engineering sound so that he can make them subservient to the final product – good music.

Grant also surrounds himself with musicians who are at home creating Jazz in a studio environment.

In recent years, Grant has taken matters a step further with the formation of his own label - Futurism Records.

Beginning in 2006 with Say That! and following in 2009 with Cool Man Cool, Grant has offered eclectic Jazz stylings that appeal to a wide range on interests: some Smooth Jazz; some Latin Jazz; some straight-head Bebop – all infused with Grant’s sophisticated studio sensibilities.

Bop! Bang! Boom!, the latest CD in the series, was released by Grant on July 17, 2012

In addition to a whole host of special guest such as saxophonist Tom Scott, guitarist Larry Carlton and keyboard artist  Russell Ferrante who join Grant on selected tracks, there is the bonus of the artwork of Miles Thompson that graces these CDs and is very reminiscent of the classic LP cover art that Jim Flora developed for many RCA and Columbia classic Jazz LP’s in the 1950s.

Here’s what Michael Bloom Media Relations had to say about Bop! Bang! Boom!:

“[This CD] is the third album in a loosely fashioned trilogy that reflects Grant Geissman's shift to more traditional jazz expressions. The powerfully eclectic follow-up to Say That! and Cool Man Cool includes amped-up ventures into numerous genres that reflect Geissman's multitude of passions.

The key to making meaningful music for me is to not limit myself stylistically. I actually can't envision writing an album where every track sounds the same. One of the reasons I created my own label, Futurism, was so that I could explore anything I wanted—which to me is what an artist is supposed to do. I don't know what happens after Bop! Bang! Boom!, it might be completely different. But it's not about having a master plan, it's about writing and recording music that excites and inspires me.”

Geissman co-wrote the Emmy-nominated theme (and also co-writes the underscore) for the hit CBS-TV series Two and Q Half Men. He also co-writes the underscore for the hit series Mike & Molly (also on CBS). As a studio musician, he has recorded with such artists as Quincy Jones, Chuck Mangione (playing the now-classic guitar solo on the 1977 hit "Feels So Good77), Lorraine Feather, Cheryl Bentyne, Van Dyke Parks, Ringo Starr, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, Joanna Mewsom, Inara George, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello.”

Here’s a taste of the music on Bop! Bang! Boom! The tune is Un Poco EspaƱol on which Grant plays his mellow-sounding 1972 Hernandis nylon string classical guitar with Russell Ferrante featured on piano.