First I’d like to quickly apologize for being absent from blogging for so long. The exciting and intoxicating challenges of leading a growing company means I have less time for other pleasurable endeavours, but it won’t keep me away forever. With that, lets ease back into genYchina.com with a review of Gerald Clayton.
In the past year that I’ve had Gerald Clayton in my playlist, there are countless times that I’ve heard his songs and had to flip through my iTunes to check who it is. Every time I expect it to be Robert Glasper, because their playing styles are very similar — lyrical, light and elegant, yet with deep-seeded funk and soul driving the course of their musical compositions. While Robert Glasper uses a lot of hip-hop and RnB elements in many of his jazz-fusion pieces, Gerald Clayton utilizes a traditional jazz ensembles but can still capture the same rhythm and blues attitude we’ve come to know and love.
It doesn’t surprise me therefore, that Gerald Clayton, a Jazz Pianist, has for some years been a fixture in Roy Hargrove‘s quintets. Roy Hargrove has been one of the main stalwarts of Jazz-Funk and Jazz-Soul fusion for over 10 years with both the RH Factor and his Quintet. Gerald Clayton toured with Hargrove’s Quintet throughout the 2006-2007 seasons and was the pianist in Hargrove’s 2008 ‘Earfood’ album. I am sure these were important formative years for Gerald Clayton and did a lot in forming his sound today.
I believe the ‘Earfood’ album was when I first noticed Gerald Clayton. If I go back to that album I am sure we would find a few tracks that showcase some exquisite piano playing.
Clayton’s edginess is matched and rounded-out by his deliciously intricate playing. Growing up trained in classical music, he brings the full breadth of his repertoire and experience into his jazz music. His 2006 work on two Diana Krall albums may have brought good seasoning to this side of his sound.
What is even more impressive is Clayton’s youth. Graduating with a bachelors of Arts from USC Thorton School of Music in 2006, at the age of 27 Clayton already has 2 albums under his own name. He’s already garnered 2 Grammy nominations, one for the song “All of You” on Clayton’s 2009 ‘Two-Shade’ album, and another for his work in “Battle Circle” on the 2010 ‘The New Song and Dance’ album from his father and uncle’s band, The Clayton Brothers. While Gerald Clayton’s first grammy win eludes him, it is obvious that it is an inevitability. Gerald Clayton is defining himself as one of the leading figures in this new generation of Jazz.
I’m still working through Gerald Clayton’s newest album, ‘Bond: The Paris Sessions’ released earlier this year, but what I’m hearing so far is a continued maturation of Gerald’s sound; drawing on his classical piano training, he is wisely being patient with his compositions, letting them simmer and ripen at their own pace. Clayton is not afraid of the nakedness of raw, articulate jazz. Instead, he boldly fills the space with unwavering, refined, independent piano that demands your attention and respect. At each moment you can hear he is in complete control, and is aggressively driving you, the listener, to meet him at the middle in the world he is creating.
I’m thoroughly impressed by this young pianist and have already gained hours of enjoyment from his music. I have nothing but continued high hopes and expectations for what is to come.