Grant Geissman Quartet: There and Back Again
Contemporary jazz from this exciting quintet works best when you've got the chance to watch them in action. Recorded in a studio with each artist wearing headphones and taking cues from each other while sitting apart from each other, the camera pans back and forth from one artist to the next, oftentimes showing two in split frames side by side. You can't feel a part of the action, as you would with a concert performance, but you do get all the benefits of seeing the quintet create together. Visual cues are still evident, as the five artists communicate with each other musically and through eye contact.
Grant Geissman mellows out with a session of originals that run smooth and sentimental. While watching his fingers move rapidly and his slide technique taking over at appropriate times, you can feel the waves of emotion, as they emanate naturally from the quintet's cohesive interplay. Gordon Goodwin and Geissman work together in unison much of the time, creating melodies that ooze languorously, placing the session into a sphere where time seems suspended. Their music rests comfortably on the horizon.
Goodwin's "Hipso Calypso, the one piece on the program that moves with a contagious spirit and contains more animation than the others, features soprano saxophone and guitar in a delectable mood, ready to celebrate whichever occasion is just around the corner. Mardi Gras, summer solstice, the 4th of July, or just a casual weekend seems like the right time for this smooth groove.
The remainder of Geissman's program runs smooth and mellow with heartfelt emotion. It's a relaxed setting intended to provide space for his audience to "chill.
A 16-minute interview provides considerable insight into Geissman's extensive career in jazz. His candid remarks, including reflections on those early years with Chuck Mangione, prove invaluable. Remember how much mileage they got out of "Feel So Good?
With acoustic bassist Kevin Axt, Geissman provides a 14-minute guitar lesson on "L.A. Blues, where he explains how it's done and offers tips on performance. Like me, blues lovers will find this part of the program invaluable.
Rather than simply place special DVD features such as biographies and song comments in a visual, text format for the reader, Geissman has elected to speak to his audience with candid interviews and extensive oral comments. We learn about his work with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, his fascination with Mad Magazine, and about the other artists performing with him on this album. Thanks to some innovative ideas in presentation, There and Back Again is a winner and shouldn't be missed.
Approximate Running Time: 64 minutes.
DVD Producer: Mark Waldrep
Track Listing: There and Back Again; Good Stuff; L.A. Blues; The Sirens of Titan; Outré; The 53rd Calypso; Slightly Out of Town; Ballad to the Cosmic Wind; The Hipso Calypso; Blowin' Out the Orbit Floor.
Musicians: Grant Geissman- guitar; Gordon Goodwin- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jim Cox- piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano; Jimmy Johnson- electric bass; Gregg Bissonette- drums.
Extensive Interactive Liner Notes on the Performers, Session and Technical Info