This album is nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, and is Gerald's 2nd nomination. Here's what breaks my heart and makes me excited all at once - he's only 26 years old. Yup. And he maybe has one of my favorite music quotes ever, as of this moment: "tradition and innovation can peacefully coexist." All right, I'm maybe swooning a little.
And he allows absolutely every kind of music to his ears and to influence him. This may be my dream man, right here.
If this album is as amazing as he sounds, Zach Hanson may have some competition on my top musicians list.
Quick video intro, because I can't find a lot outside of live performances on this guy... oh, and he teaches:
There's more going on in a darker tone, almost, with "Bootleg Bruise." The notes are being hit harder. This is probably going to be one of those albums that is significantly harder to talk about than others because of the improv nature to the whole genre. It's much more difficult to discern what an artist is thinking in a song without the lyrics to convey it right there out in the open. Of course, that does leave everything much more open to interpretation and personal opinion.
"Major Hope" starts off so light and personal. The melody that starts to come in a few seconds later, including the tambourine, does almost speak like a marching order in an army, but with more flair. The flair is maybe where the "hope" part comes in? While piano may come across as pretty similar throughout different numbers, it's cool to hear a subtle tone and/or story difference. Then this upswing comes late in the song, drawing all these instruments a little more up and powerful.
Again, we're eased into the music for "Bond: Fresh Squeeze." It's a very smooth jazz track until this build that is just blowing me away as a listener. I almost didn't realize it was there until it was happening. Really a cool thing that happens with these tracks.
"Snake Bite" is all drums at the start. Yes, the piano, of course, comes in, but it's much more staccato than flowing, and fits what the song is called. The notes hit instead of play. This is more the drum's song, in my view, and the piano could serve well to back off a little bit.
A beautiful slowdown is brought on with "Sun Glimpse," as the beginning sounds like a sunrise. Even as it goes on, knowing that title, the sun is there. It's kind of like watching it throughout the day, burning brighter and brighter, as the music does as it goes on. The faster melody improvs throughout the song feel like little rays floating. It's really a cool thing to hear, even into the end where the sun may be setting more and slowing down for the day.
"Which Persons?" is entirely one stringed instrument. And yeah, it sounds like it's asking the question.
That leads right on into "3D" which sounds more like the trio that Gerald would usually be heard with. I get it - 3D; it goes from individuals to all three. Er, something like that. This is a very lounge-type of jazz song, letting all those involved kind of do their own thing, answering each other's rhythms most of the time.
"Nobody Else But Me" starts so gently, I'm led to believe it may be some kind of love song. It's very simply the piano on its own, and mostly stays gentle, aside from these little quirky melodies that sneak in from time to time.
"All The Things You Are" honestly doesn't strike me in the way a lot of the other tracks had been. It's good, and it's got this approach with a tempo that I know is a little difficult to do on a piano. However, it's not as moving in any particuar way, and could just as easily be happening in some back room jazz lounge full of smoke.
Then we shift into this incredible cello sadness and more minor chords than we've heard in any of the other tracks combined, with "Bond: The Release." There's definitely, what I cannot describe as anything else but, a release about halfway through. It leads into a calming play out and depressing but cathartic cry. Seriously, listen and tell me you don't get that.
"Shout and Cry" picks things up after that though, keeping this pretty consistent little piano rift going as the rest of the band picks up around it, almost drowning it out. This reminds me of what a jazz version of about half of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo soundtrack would be like. It's almost like an organized train wreck.
I got distracted and didn't realize that "Round Come Round" had started. For the first time on this whole album, I feel like this is truly background music, maybe even close to elevator music. Again, it's one of those that feels improved, but in a typical way. It's good, but not great.
"Hank" is the last song, and just has this incredible piano lead in where you can imagine fingers floating across the keys in such a singing-like nature. I don't care if that doesn't make sense to anyone else.
Okay, so all that being said, here's a video of a live performance. I think so much of his music is about the flow of improv that it's extra hard to find these particular songs, even in live versions. It's all about the feel. So, here's his trio performing, pretty much, I would guess, by feel:
And finally, as will (hopefully) become habit, here is the full album Spotify listening link. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!