What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Grant Geissman

by Doc Dosco
http://www.docdosco.com

This week we feature LA jazz guitarist Grant Geissman.

Grant sent me his new CD 'Say That!' recently. What a gem. I don't
usually review CDs, but in this case I am going to put in a plug for
Grant. This CD has a cool straight ahead feel, with original
compositions by Grant... great tunes with some smokin' playing to back
them up. All in all, a worthwhile addition to any jazz guitar
collection.

Grant Geissman is not a big fan of smooth jazz, and I must admit neither
am I. It is no longer 'jazz' per se, rather just vocal and instrumental
adult contemporary hiding under a jazz label. Once upon a time,
when 'jazz fusion' was hot, I loved the stuff. But jazz fusion seemed to
morph somehow into something which is more of a radio marketing gimmick
than a musical genre.

The January 30, 2006 issue of JazzWeek, a radio industry publication
that goes out to jazz and smooth jazz radio stations and other
interested parties, has a long feature interview with Grant about the
Say That! album, and the sad state of smooth jazz. It seems to be
causing a bit of a stir at the moment!

Online Bio

Guitarist/composer Grant Geissman is a much in-demand studio musician
who has recorded with such artists as Quincy Jones, David Benoit, Burt
Bacharach and Elvis Costello, Chuck Mangione, Paula Abdul, Ringo Starr,
John Tesh, Keiko Matsui, Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson, Placido Domingo,
Luis Miguel, and Julio Iglesias. He has also played on the scores for
such TV shows as Two and a Half Men, Monk (playing the Django
Reinhardt-style acoustic guitar solo on the theme), Dawson's Creek,
Touched by an Angel, Boy Meets World, and Family Affair, as well as on
movies like Austin Powers/The Spy Who Shagged Me, The Cable Guy, My Dog
Skip, Tomb Raider II, Private Parts, Star Trek: Resurrection, The
Majestic, and Anaconda.

With the legendary, eclectic musician/composer Van Dyke Parks, Geissman
has worked on Parks's solo recording projects, and on music for the HBO
children's program Harold and the Purple Crayon, for which Parks and
Geissman were nominated for an Annie Award. He has also assisted Parks
on three movie projects, providing additional music for The Ponder Heart
(PBS), Call Me Claus (Showtime), and Monday Night Mayhem (Showtime).
Geissman also assisted composer Dennis McCarthy on the quirky feature
film Die, Mommy, Die, produced by Anthony Edwards. Writing with Randy
Rogel, Geissman also has three original songs in Nickelodeon's animated
film Charlotte's Web II, as well as a song in the Disney animated film
Winnie the Pooh:Springtime with Roo.

Geissman is also a popular Contemporary Jazz recording artist in his own
right, with thirteen highly regarded albums as a solo artist. Geissman's
trademark over the course of his solo recordings-from Good Stuff in 1978
through 2006's Say That!-has been applying his formidible string
virtuosity to his strong, signature melodies. Stylistically he has never
failed to push envelopes: from his fiery Latin excursions on 1995's
Business As Usual, the more organic, acoustic, classical flavors of
1993's Rustic Technology, to his eclectic, blues and funk-drenched
Higher Octave release In With the Out Crowd (which was inspired by the
great mid-'60s Ramsey Lewis classic, "The In Crowd").

While most of his previous albums were conceived and completed with a
definite timeline at hand, sometimes letting his recordings evolve and
breathe over time (as they did on In With the Out Crowd) leads to a
certain creative freedom which allows for positive, unexpected things to
happen. And various serendipitous events have kept Geissman very busy.
He recently reached a career milestone and personal accomplishment by
playing on former Beatle Ringo Starr's recent release, Ringo Rama.
Geissman recently completed a high resolution DVD release celebrating
the 25th anniversary of The Grant Geissman Quintet called There and Back
Again (released on AIX Records). And his brand new release on Futurism
Records, Say That!, marks a full return to his mainstream jazz roots.

Anyone who has followed Grant Geissman's history knows that it was his
electric guitar which allowed him to make his initial and perhaps most
enduring stamp on pop culture, the still-revered improvised solo on
Chuck Mangione's 1978 pop crossover hit, Feels So Good. A San Jose,
California native who grew up on a steady diet of Beatles, Eric Clapton,
surf guitar music and later jazz and blues greats Wes Montgomery, Kenny
Burrell and B.B. King, Geissman was in his senior year of college as a
classical guitar major at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles when a
mutual friend recommended him for a gig with Chuck Mangione. With
Mangione, Geissman recorded a number of albums, toured the world, and
appeared on virtually all of the major TV programs of the time that
featured live musical acts. With all of his subsequent achievements as a
composer, recording artist and session player for TV, film and jingles,
Geissman is still very gratified that "the solo" from Feels So Good is
now considered to be a classic.

Geissman's previous five Contemporary Jazz releases have reached the top
10 on the national airplay charts, with two of them, Flying Colors and
Time Will Tell, rising to the #1 position on the Gavin, Mac, and Radio &
Records Charts. The complete list of his solo recordings is Good Stuff,
Put Away Childish Toys, Drinkin' from the Money River, Snapshots, All My
Tomorrows, Take Another Look, Flying Colors, Rustic Technology, the
compilation CD Reruns, Business as Usual, In With the Out Crowd, There
and Back Again, and Say That!

Quite apart from his musical career, Geissman is one of the country's
largest collectors of MAD Magazine and 1950s E.C. Comics memorabilia. He
has authored three definitive books on the subjects: Collectibly MAD
(Kitchen Sink Press, 1995), Tales of Terrror! The EC Companion (with
Fred von Bernewitz, Gemstone/Fantagraphics, 2000), and Foul Play! The
Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! (HarperDesign,
2005).

Whatever influences his music is celebrating at any given time, Grant
Geissman is always finding new and innovative rhythmic and stylistic
twists around those great melodies he's become famous for. The guitarist
Chuck Mangione once dubbed "General Grant" is most decidedly on the
inside track to continued success.

Grant's website:
http://grantgeissman.com/

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in
Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com,
where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar'
columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc
endorses Heritage Guitars and is a featured artist on their website. He
also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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