Joe Gilman – Quotes & Reviews

Joe Gilman – Relativity

Always loved it, always will: hard bop, small group style. Best with the combo of piano, bass, drums and a front line of tenor and trumpet, but I can slum it and have variations and even an extra instrument. The mix of bop, soul, gospel with catchy melodies with solos that go just long enough without jumping off a cliff make this my go-to music whenever I’m not sure what to play. Here are two recent releases by modern gents who got my attention.

Pianist Joe Gilman leads a snappy little team of Nick Frenay/tp, Chad Lefkowitz/ts-bc, Zach Brown/b and Corey Fonville/dr through a collection of originals that keep the bop flame burning but add extra textures and rabbit trails. Classic toe tappers like “Three Spheres” feature the warm brass provided by Frenay as well as the groove-oriented rhythm section. Gilman displays his lyricism on a couple of solo pieces like “Dewdrop,” while other tunes such as “Sky and Water” and “Three Worlds” have some intriguing harmonies, accents and sidebars that keep you paying attention. Lefkowitz’s tenor is firm and muscular, with the veins popping on “Ascending and Descending.” Put this one right alongside your Jazz Messengers catalogue!

Felipe Salles leads a rollicking team as well. He himself solos on tenor and soprano sax, as well as flutes and bass clarinets, while the rest of the team of Nando Michelin/p, Keala Kaumeheiwa/b, Bertram Lehmann/dr and Laura Arpianen/v is supplemented by the exciting trumpet of guest Randy Brecker. The band gets down and funky on material like “Seagull’s Island” and the darker “B’s Blues,” both which highlight the leader’s red clay sound on tenor. The band is air tight on “Departure” which is kicked up a couple notches by some roller coaster accents just when you least suspect it. On the mellower side, Salles’ soprano caresses “Awaiting” while Michelin’s piano gently coaxes the ivories. A gorgeous “Adagio Trieste” has an almost chamber-like feel to it, with Salles’ flute providing soft winds. Excellent outing. Reviewed by, George W. Harris, (January 24, 2013)
Joe Gilman loves art-or maybe he’s just engaged by multi-layered pieces of expression. The pianist’s last disc, 2010’s Americanvas, used 20th Century paintings as objects of inspiration. With Relativity, he’s focused on artist M.C. Escher, paying tribute to his works by building intricate, geometric compositions. “Waterfall,” the second track on the disc, uses the complex geometric construct from the beginning, as Gilman creates a space where the lone trumpet of Nick Frenay moves into  quasi-fugue, a dissonant entanglement with the superb tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown. The entire time, as the tension rises, Gilman is a calming presence with lush chords, occasionally echoing the melody of added support. In fact, Gilman exudes this subtle power throughout most of the disc, providing a grounding force for the horns when needed. On the fragile ballad “Three Worlds” Relativity turns into almost a trio, with Lefkowitz-Brown only providing counterpoint on clarinet toward the end. In notes to the composition, Gilman explains that the piece revolves around the number three, a guiding principle for everything from length (33 measures) to the harmonic approach. For that much complexity, the tune is a gentle respite for the puzzles about to come – up-tempo, frenzied exercises that have all the musicians playing at full bore. Reviewed by, Jon Ross,,  3 Stars. (February 2013)
In his previous albums, Joe Gilman has re-interpreted the music of Dave Brubeck and Stevie Wonder, and created musical impressions of 20th century visual art. For his latest recording, “Relativity”, Gilman takes on the brilliant and bizarre artworks of M.C. Escher.  The cover of the album reproduces Escher’s lithograph of the same name, and the mixture of detailed realism and gravity-defying structures aptly describes the music on the CD. The compositions work within the established framework of the bebop jazz quintet (trumpet, sax, piano, bass and drums) but add shrinking phrase lengths, tone rows, odd meters and unusual colors to evoke the bizarre happenings in Escher’s imaginary world. Pieces inspired by Escher’s nature-inspired works “Three Worlds” and “Snow,” offer momentary respites from the exploratory nature of the album. Gilman wrote six of the albums eleven pieces, with the remainder composed by pianist Scott Collard, associate producer Noah Kellman and tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown. Gilman plays piano throughout, and is the main soloist on the album. The rest of the quintet members are Gilman’s former students at the Brubeck Institute (Nick Frenay trumpet, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown tenor sax, Zach Brown bass, and Corey Fonville drums). The former Brubeck Fellows do a superb job of realizing these sometimes-complex compositions. Gilman’s liner notes give descriptions of the original art works and detailed information on the musical structures. “Relativity” is an album that will challenge and enlighten all who hear it. Reviewed by, nfryer, (December 3, 2012)
M.C. Escher captured the imagination of the world with his perspective-altering artwork. Escher’s mind’s eye and eye’s mind challenged people to see things differently, and pianist Joe Gilman has found inspiration in his brilliant work. Gilman, who previously delved into the music-inspired-by-art realm on Americanvas (Capri, 2010), uses Escher’s creations as inspirational seeds and guiding forces for this music. He takes a good, hard look at eleven of Escher’s pieces, with music written to capture what he saw. Gilman’s constructs reflect Escher’s unique outlook on life, but they’re not all about fun house mirrors, oddities and upside down observances. Gilman is just as likely to throw in a burner “Smaller And Smaller” or a calm wintery suggestion “Snow” as he is to include a number built on different forms of evolutionary alteration or sleight of hand “Three Worlds”. Interweaving lines that are oppositional, yet complementary come into play on occasion “Covered Alley”, but these musicians also know how to band together and move in lockstep fashion “Three Spheres”. The quintet featured on this date acts a single, well-oiled unit, willing to do what’s necessary for the music: capable of touching down in Brazil without fully committing to its climate “Day And Night”, letting things get fun, funky and fusion-eque “Encounter”, and driving with the pedal to the metal and quickly shifting gears to open up some space “Ascending And Descending”. Trumpeter Nick Frenay blends and balances well with saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown when his flugelhorn is in hand, but shines even brighter with his muted trumpet “Encounter”. Drummer Corey Fonville controls the growth and development of  “Waterfall,” building new scaffolding behind each performer, while bassist Zach Brown acts as stabilizing force or counterweight when required by the music. Gilman’s music, like Escher’s art, is all about the eye of the beholder. The pianist does a fine job here, bringing Escher’s work into the realm of the audible while also creating music that can stand on its own. Reviewed by, Dan Bilawsky, (November 19, 2012)

Track Listing: Three Spheres; Waterfall; Three Worlds; Smaller And Smaller; Covered Alley; Encounter; Snow; Day And Night; Sky And Water; Dewdrop; Ascending And Descending.
Personnel: Joe Gilman: piano, Fender Rhodes; Nick Frenay: trumpet, flugelhorn; Chad-Lefkowitz-Brown: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Zach Brown: bass; Corey Fonville: drums.
It would appear anything I could possibly say would border on pointless but occasionally I do get a little wood on the ball. Relativity is the follow up to the critically acclaimed Americanvas which is the sonic interpretation of work by American artists of the 20th century. Relativity is the conceptualized interpretation of one of the most eclectic of artists of the century, M.C. Escher. For the uninitiated, the works of Escher are highly cerebral in nature creating or reminding us of the world around us and the impact on his own intellect and imagination. Gilman decided to take on the work of Escher in an attempt to make that musical leap of faith and at the same time build that sonic bridge of connectivity between the two art forms while building his own imaginary universe. To portray the complexities of the work of Escher is certainly a daunting task but in doing so the possibly untapped potential of Gilman seems to spring forth from an even deeper artist soul than Gilman may have been aware of. Naturally taste is subjective but pushing the work of Brubeck or Stevie Wonder as had been done in previous works is something entirely different than a musical adaptation of polyhedrons, infinite drawings and impossible structures into an alternate universe as is the case with Relativity. A great deal of Escher’s work had a distinct cleverness yet at times a prevailing dark synergy of numeric patterns which seems to be the epicenter of Gillman’s work. Smaller and Smaller is a 1956 wood engraving that represents an infinite world in an enclosed plane in which twelve reptiles reptiles are repeated in an ever shrinking four leaf clover pattern or shape thus the idea of the twelve tone row representing the reptiles. Without leaping off into the technical abysses without a parachute, the musical patterns shrink in mathematical proportion as does Escher’s work. The 1961 lithograph Waterfall is the image in which water from the base of a cascade appears to run downhill before reaching the top. Escher’s creation of a visual paradox is transformed by Gilman by using a melody and an imitative counter melody that descends, while its harmonic movement pushes infinitely upward creating this most unique dynamic tension. The compositions “Snow” is a recreation of the 1936 lithograph that is a most life like depiction of a solitary cabin in a distant winter timberland. Gilman does a masterful job of capturing the subtle nuances of such minute detail such as the creaking of low dried out branches thanks to the weight of the snow by the use of the bass clarinet. One need not be familiar with the work of Escher or even Gillman to appreciate this hybridization of two art forms. The most amazing aspect of this work is that Gillman leaves us with a more open ended possibility of interpretation for work that is so inherently cerebral in nature yet wildly accessible. From a compositional point of view, Gillman is a master at his craft but sometimes the simplest words are the best if in this case perhaps the most accurate, “Joe Gillman is certainly one of the greatest pianists I’ve ever heard.” – Dave Brubeck. Reviewed by, Brent Black, (October 23, 2012)
“Pianist Joe Gilman’s Relativity (Capri) has enormous lift in the hard bop department. All of the compositions on his new CD are Gilman’s own and tie into M.C. Escher’s circuitous illustrations. The real action here is the tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowiz-Brown, who soars effortlessly through uptempo tracks, and trumpeter Nick Frenay—particularly on Three Spheres and Smaller and Smaller. The album’s ballads are less effective, but the fast and furious songs will capture you instantly.” ~ Marc Meyers, 27, 2012)
JOE GILMAN/Relativity: It might be a conceit I just don’t get. Gilman says his music is inspired by works of art. Well…there have been impressionistic musics in the past–but I don’t know. Here he says these works are inspired by M. C. Escher. I don’t know. I do know it’s a bopping, swinging piano led date where the leaders knows how to step aside and give everyone some, yielding a solid set that is a winner for mainstream jazzbos that like it with some pepper. It’s ok with us if he says this was inspired by Escher, but we’ve always figured Escher would sound like a head trip, not swinging jazz. That’s the upside of this being America where we can think what we want. I think this set is a winner by a dyed in the wool jazzbo that has the track record and the chops to know which end is up. Check it out, even if you don’t know anything about fine art. Reviewed by, Chris Spector, (October 26th, 2012)
Joe Gilman – Americanvas

Pianist Joe Gilman leads a young and talented quintet on Americanvas, an album of original tunes inspired by American artists such as Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell. Jazz that takes its inspiration from the visual arts is not rare–British saxophonist Andy Sheppard’s Movements In Colour (ECM, 2009) was so inspired, for example. Like Sheppard, Gilman’s varied choices are reflected in the music’s range of styles and moods ensuring that this is a constantly intriguing recording. Gilman is an experienced musician and educator, with eight previous albums under his own name, and is a regular in vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson’s band. His fellow musicians on Americanvas are precociously talented players, all members of the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, with abilities already well-established, even at such an early age. Saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown also contributes two compositions to the album, including “Whaam!” The Roy Lichtenstein painting used as the basis for the tune is one of the most recognizable images in twentieth century art, and Lefkowitz-Brown’s music creates immediate links to the work. A key musical feature is the slightly discordant clash of notes played by Lefkowitz-Brown and fellow saxophonist Ben Flocks at the top of their ascending line. The tension this creates is heightened by Gilman’s rolling piano phrases, while Zach Brown’s walking bass line and Adam Arruda’s cymbals drive the rhythm, adding to the pace and excitement of the tune.

”Cebola Church” is inspired by a Georgia O’Keefe painting. Zach Brown’s arco bass gives Gilman’s tune its emotional center, aided by a soprano sax solo played with verve and precision, though sadly, it’s not clear whether the player is Flocks or Lefkowitz-Brown. Gilman’s musical interpretation of another iconic painting–Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”–successfully recreates the late-night loneliness of the diner and its inhabitants. This is a smoky blues, with a tenor sax lead line that is simple, but wonderfully effective. ”Yellow, Red, Blue,” based on a Mark Rothko painting, is another Gilman composition and another highlight. It’s a floating, relaxing, composition whose twin saxophones create a rich, enticing sound. Gilman’s own piano and Arruda’s cymbals add to the dreamlike feel the softness of the instrumental sounds reflecting the gentle calmness of Rothko’s composition. Americanvas is a lovely album, the inspirational artworks are well-chosen, and their musical interpretations beautifully executed. It affirms Gilman’s talents as a player and composer, but also acts as an introduction to four young players of great potential. Americanvas: Reviewed by, Bruce Lindsay.
Lucid Culture – Pianist Joe Gilman’s New Album Gets Synesthesia: A cynic would say that when musicians aren’t stealing ideas from each other, they’re stealing them from other artists. Some of the tracks on jazz pianist JoeGilmans new CD Americanvas seem to be an attempt to sonically interpret a series of fairly well-known works of visual art; others simply use the paintings as inspiration. More often than not, this approach works, in ways that are surprising and surprisingly fun. As one of the head honchos at the Brubeck Institute, Gilman has access to some of the world’s most promising up-and-coming jazz talent, and puts them to good use. Here he’s joined by saxophonists BenFlocksand ChadLefkowitzBrown along with 19-year-old bassist ZachBrown and fearless 20-year-old drummer AdamArruda, who absolutely owns this album.

Fast-forward past the opening cut, which is like Rick Wakeman at his most olympic. Instead, savor the devious, playful, absolutely spot-on “Where the Wild Things Are,” a Maurice Sendak homage – it has nothing to do with the movie and everything to do with the book. Arruda has a field day, in both senses of the word, with this, bounding and rumbling all the way through, ever-present but never to the point where the ostentation might get annoying. Gilman’s hop-skip-and-a-jump piano solo brings the adventure to the point where the monsters appear, the soprano sax goes modal and they go out in a quietly glorious, chordally-charged shimmer. Roy Lichtenstein’s “Whaam!” gets a bustling, rapidfire, unselfconsciously cartoonish rendering; Keith Haring’s “MonkeyPuzzle”(no relation to the Saints album that preceded it) gets a surprisingly serious, straight-up swing treatment with expansive lyrical piano solo and genially smoky tenor sax. The standout piece in this gallery is, unsurprisingly, “Nighthawks,” which interprets the iconic EdwardHopperdinertableau as Huis Clos (look closely: there’s no exit). After Gilman’s slow noir ambience sets the stage, there’s a very long, very slowly unwinding tenor solo, and then a casually stunning shift: waiter? Garcon? Whichever the case, the alto sax offers a welcome break from the long, long night…until he leaves, and it’s back in Gilman’s lowlit fingers. Romare Bearden’s classic New York At Night, appears here as the vividly evocative “Nocturne du Romare,” Brown’s agile bass walking it lickety-split beneath late 50s-inflected solos around the horn. The moody, catchy “Yellow, Red, Blue” – a Rothko reference – echoes with Mulatu Astatke-ish circularity and another sudden shift from sinister to sunny, Arruda’s big, irresistibly fun, dramatic cymbal accents as effective here as they are in several other places on this disc. Other tracks here include a subtly interlocking exercise in contrapuntal melody and tempo shifts, and a viscerally anxious Scott Collard ballad carried by the reeds. It’s out now on CapriRecords.
Originality plus artistic vision equals an irresistible palette for jazz. Pianist Joe Gilman, music director of the Brubeck Institute’s fellowship program, mixes both elements with Americanvas, musical interpretations of 10 American paintings. “Gossip” begins with a spirited solo piano that shifts gears a few times before bringing in the rest of the band. The saxophones lead in a series of frenetic, stop-time phrases. Bass and drums are fully engaged behind the soloists, starting with the alto sax, followed by the piano and then the tenor. Arruda fills in response to sequential phrases by the alto, piano and tenor. The song ends with the melody and introduction played in reverse. The jaunty “Monkey Puzzle” at first sounds like an abstract piece, with each instrument doings its own thing. However, the melody soon becomes clear, with the saxophones and piano playing in unison at one point. As they do throughout the set, Arruda and Brown express themselves freely while underscoring the leads. Gilman composed seven of the songs on Americanvas, while Lefkowitz-Brown penned “Whaam!” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” and associated producer Malcolm Javier Santiago wrote “Nocturne Du Romare.” The combination of new music and unrestricted performance creates more than an hour’s worth of jazz that’s unpretentious and engaging. Reviewed by, Woodrow Wilkins –
This is certainly a new way to fuse art and jazz. Impressionistic jazz taking it’s cue from existing paintings as interpreted by young players that have the fire in the belly. Pulling from the works of any artist that speaks to them as opposed to restricting themselves just to the classics, the masters etc. The thing that speaks to me is that this is a fun, upbeat jazz date that spotlights youngsters with more talent than they should have. It’s probably a really cool, candid look at the stars of tomorrow. Reviewed by Chris Spector, Midwest Records. (September 4, 2010)
Pianist /Composer Joe Gilman creates a unique musical masterpiece by utilizing ten original compositions to interpret the canvases of ten American Painters over the past 70 years. Gilman is accompanied by four teenage phenoms, to honor painters that include Mark Rothko, Keith Haring, Norman Rockwell and others. Creative results abound, as Gilman talks his talk on “Gossip,” exploring with “Where The Wild Things Are,” the haunting “Cebola Church,” exploding with the high energy “Whaam!” followed by the heavily punctuated, easy to solve “Monkey Puzzle.” The lengthy “Nighthawks” soar as the second half reveals the pastel colors of “Color Arcs in Four Directions,” trailed by “Nothing At All of This Is Fixed,” plus the flighty “Nocturne Du Romare,” and the final brush strokes, “Yellow, Red, Blue.” Tempos, textures and improvisations of a true artist! Americanvas: Reviewed by, Bob Morello – Post Gazette.
I guess the title of this album may offer a clue to you as to its theme – if not then I can tell you that Americanvas is a themed album based on the work of various American painters. The album is jazz, post bop, full of improvisation. The musicians involved are Joe Gilman – keyboards and main composer, Ben Flocks – saxes, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – saxes and composer of two tracks, Zach Brown – bass and Adam Arruda – Drums and percussion. The painters who have inspired this music include Mark Rothko, Keith Haring and Norman Rockwell amongst several others. The music is certainly full on and vibrant and the moods created vary from frantic and very loud to more meditative moments.

As you would expect with two saxophonists in the line up they tend to monopolize the sound, but Mr Gilman’s robust piano playing always carries the music forward while the rhythm section push forcefully from behind. I think the ten track titles mostly refer to famous paintings by these artists so I’ll list them: “Gossip,” “Where The Wild Things Are,” “Cebola Church,” “Whaam!,” “Monkey Puzzle,” “Nighthawks,”” Color Arcs in Four Directions,” “Nothing At All Of This Is Fixed,”” Nocturne Du Romare” [written by Malcolm Javier Santiago], and “Yellow Red Blue.” The one constant with Americanvas is that it is fizzing with energy throughout and I can imagine that any live versions will be highly impressive to watch and listen to. Americanvas: Reviewed by, John M. Peters, The Boderland – UK.
It is far from unusual  that jazz musicians are inspired  of art, some are even even performing artists, such. the recently deceased trumpeter Bill Dixon was. Dixon is also an example an artist, where very clear relation between musical composition and artistic expression. There is a apparent motion from Dixon’s abstract paintings to his unconventional exploration of tonal space. Another musician who has successfully translated a painterly universe music, guitarist Bill Frisell, whose interpretation of Gerhard Richter’s paintings, RICHTER 858 (Song Lines, 2005), stands as some of the finest genre. Pianist Joe Gilman, who has played firm with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, the album Americanvas also embarked to translate painting to music, but Dixon kept for its own expression and Frisell worked on a single artistic universe, so Gilman spreads, so to speak palette out, as he interprets no fewer than ten different paintings, whose style covers ranging from Roy Lichtenstein pop art, of Edward Hopper realism and Mark Rothko abstract expressionism. The only common denominator is that they are American painters jfv. pun in the title. The great diversity of both strength and weakness release. Detached from the artistic context is talk about melodic and complex music, where Gilman’s elegant piano game that incorporates everything from Steve Reich’s minimalism to Thelonious Monk’s quirky rhythms and harmonies, occupying a central role. The group with saxophonist Ben Flock and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and bassist Zach Brown and drummer Adam Arruda, stands also strong and on the ballad “Nighthawks,” which is an interpretation Edward Hopper’s picture of the same name hit a pure ballad mood that well suited to the depiction of the lone American diner, but as an artistic project will Americanvas to diffuse. It is thus striking to the otherwise voluminous liner notes not to contain a single reproduction of the interpreted paintings and the visual connection, the music comes therefore easier to appear as an intellectual postulate. But perhaps the best in reality also to forget the discursive framework of music and simply let the appear as what it is really is: rousing modern jazz that needs no artistic crutch. Americanvas: Reviewed by, Jacob Bækgaard (2009)
Sacramento’s Gilman is the primary pianist with Bobby Hutcherson, and he has performed with artists as diverse as Marlena Shaw and Joe Locke, George Duke and Chris Botti. As a solo artist and composer, Gilman’s compositions are sophisticated and cerebral. The title is meant to evoke the painterly arts, and it does that through its creative process. The opener, “Gossip,” is a minor-keyed, hard bop burner that has a staccato, angular melody. Gilman’s pouncing solo is a highlight, as is the tenor solo by young saxophonist Ben Flocks. In fact, Gilman, who is a jazz educator as well, utilizes young talent throughout. Gilman uses texture like oil paint. “Where the Wild Things Are,” is a Afro-Latin number using both broad strokes and pointed stabs, while “Cebola Church” goes for long tones and greater uses of white space. The music here is not easy. Chords are dense, even on prettier tunes such as the moody “Nighthawks.” But you can appreciate and enjoy its drive, youthful energy and tight structures. Reviewed by, Jazz Society of Oregon,
Pianist Joe Gilman created Americanvas, with inspiration from some of America’s best painters. His musical interpretation of visual art is exceptional. He employs a strong team including Adam Arruda (d), Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (sax) and Zachary Brown (b). They open with “Gossip”, a cooker with Joe and Chad displaying amazing dexterity. They also shine on ballads like “Nighthawks”. Take the time to read the liner notes and pair the paintings with the music. It is a beautiful translation. Americanvas: D. Oscar Groomes, O’s Place Jazz Magazine.
Joe Gilman Gives Us Something Substantial on Americanvas:
I ordinarily give the first one or two listens to a new CD for review without reading the liners or other written descriptions of the musicians and the music. So it was with Joe Gilman’s new Americanvas (Capri 74105-2). This way the music speaks to me directly and I get a more or less pure first experience of what’s going on. As I listened I started realizing that there was something original happening. Hard-swinging soloing, a very good band . . . but the writing was unusual. Some repetition in a quasi-minimalist sense, some unusual phrasings. When I finally went to the reading material I found that pianist-composer Gilman was devoting each composition-improvisation sequence to a particular American painter and one of his works. So you get one on Haring, on Rockwell, Rothko, etc. Gilman sounds great on piano and the rest of the band, largely made up of up-and-coming younger players, has fire and facility. It is music that hits you as not at all beholden to the formulas of the past. It’s a straight-ahead jazz date with a ballsy countenance and a definite twist on how one can do a contemporary date and also avoid the typical. Highly recommended music. Thank you Mr. Gilman. Reviewed by, Gapplegate – Grego Applegate Edwards.
Joe Gilman – AMERICANVAS: Joe is no stranger in our pages… my most recent review of his exciting piano work was in issue #84, but this new CD threw me for a loop, to be sure!  The theme (duh!) was interpretation of 10 American painters, and they’ve managed to incorporate all the life and vigor of life those artists had in their paintings.  The opening track, for instance “Gossip” is a whirlwind ride through the emotional roller-coaster that such yakking generates – pure power, I’ll tell you!  Professor Gilman has taken his talent to brand-new heights with his incorporation of (several) young players in this set… just killer jazz!  The moods (like paintings) vary a great deal, too… check out the sweet and beautiful “Cebola Church”… absolutely inspiring for the entire 6:48 length.  One of the best jazz tunes I’ve heard this year, though is “Color Arcs in Four Directions”… you can hear the dedication to the spirit of music in every single note of this marvelous track!  This CD (Joe’s ninth) is, for my ears anyway, an “instant classic”… not one of the 10 tracks on this powerful CD is a throwaway – every one is a KEEPER!  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, along with “PICK” of this issue for “best all around jazz CD for 2010″.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is a top-of-the-line 5.00. Reviewed by, Rotcod Zzaj.

View So Tender:Wonder Revisited, Vol. 1

Another great theme for a jazz album! Some Stevie Wonder tunes have been picked up by jazz performers but this may be the first entire album of them – nine tracks!  And it looks like a second volume is in the offing. Gilman’s trio recorded an album of all Dave Brubeck tunes a few years ago, so this was not an off-the-wall idea for them. Lennon & McCartney tunes are being heard more and more in the jazz world as musicians realize how musically original and effective they are, and Stevie Wonder’s joyful songs are often in the same class. This seems to be a good time to bring them into the jazz genre since much jazz is being infused with elements of soul and funk. Dr. Gilman has a master’s in jazz and contemporary media from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate in education from the University of Sarasota.  He has performed with Eddie Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, George Duke, Chris Botti and Slide Hampton.  He received the Brubeck Institute’s first Brubeck Scholar Award and his rhythm section are both Brubeck Institute students. The inclusion of Wonder’s “Sir Duke” shows he is no stranger to the world of jazz.  I think my favorite track was the trio’s treatment of Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.” Reviewed by, John Henry, Audiophile Audition. (07/2006)
O’s Notes: Pianist Joe Gilman leads a trio with Joe Sanders on bass and drummer Justin Brown. They take nine of Stevie Wonder’s hits and jazz them up quite a bit. The opener “I Wish” features Joe cooking up a storm. We are classifying it as contemporary R&B jazz but the application is straight ahead. It is sure to touch fans on both sides as it is well executed. D. Oscar  Groomes, O’s Place Jazz Newsletter.
This is the same crackerjack trio that delivered two volumes of Dave Brubeck classics, artfully freshened with a new coat of musical paint. (VolumeOne was reviewed here in 2004.) Now, with View So Tender, the group turns its focus to Stevie Wonder, forging a uniquely creative and delightful link between R&B and jazz. First, a word about the trio itself. Among Joe Gilman’s recent accomplishments is winning the 2004 Great American Jazz Piano Competition. His bandmates were barely out of high school when they did the first Brubeck disc—and if they were terrific then, they’re even better now, as the trio has even more assurance, ease and flow. Always desirable traits, they’re especially crucial with rhythms as complex as these. For example, “Sir Duke” is in 9/8 and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” is “mostly in 7/4, with a bar of 4/4 thrown in every once in awhile for good measure.” But this is not random complication: each rhythmic change or reharmonization shines a bold new light on Wonder’s timeless melodies, revealing new facets and textures. “I Wish” swings like crazy, as does ”Send One Your Love,” a personal favorite that gets an update full of affection and respect. Other tunes will be familiar even if their titles are not, like the winsome “Smile, Please,” with its gorgeous, uplifting bridge, the funky “Love Light In Flight,” and the pulsing “Go Home.” I’d never heard the beautiful “Taboo,” but then the rumor’s always been that Wonder has a huge catalog of unreleased tunes. Since Volume One of this series contains only nine of the 28 tracks the trio recorded in 2004, we probably have more classy and satisfying recordings to look forward to. In the meantime, this is an exciting start, and a must-hear release for fans of both Wonder and jazz. Reviewed by, Dr. Judith Schlesinger,
Another great theme for a jazz album, recording Stevie Wonder songs! Pianist Joe Gilman was the first recipient of the Brubeck Institute’s Brubeck Scholar Award, so it was only fitting that Joe’s trio previously recorded two albums of all Dave Brubeck tunes, thus conceiving an all Stevie music CD was not an off-the-wall idea for them. But this isn’t so much a tribute album, it was never imagined that way. The trio approached Wonder’s music as a dialog between the genres of jazz and R&B, delving deep into the catalog and finding ways to creatively re-assemble the music into vehicles for improvisation. Only a few of the things that are so great about the possibilities of the art form we respectfully call jazz. Lennon & McCartney tunes are being heard more and more in the jazz world as musicians realize how musically original and effective they are, Stevie Wonder’s joyful songs are often in the same class. This seems to be a good time to bring them into the jazz genre since much jazz is being infused with elements of soul and funk. Dr. Joe Gilman has a master’s in jazz and contemporary media from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate in education from the University of Sarasota.  He has performed with Eddie Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, George Duke, Chris Botti and Slide Hampton.  His rhythm section is both former Brubeck Institute students, Joe Sanders-bass and Justin Brown-drums. So don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, just place the CD in your player and enjoy the swinging jazz sounds of Stevie Wonder hits and lesser known album cuts performed by the Joe Gilman Trio on Colorado’s own Capri Records Ltd. Reviewed by Arturo Gómez, KUVO. (August 2006)






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