Trained from the age of four, both as a jazz and classical pianist and as a composer, James Gelfand is a Juno Award-winning artist who has garnered critical acclaim in both the jazz world and the film [...]
They spoke about it
Gelfand demonstrates his improvisational skills. The modern rhythms and melodies contrast well with his swinging and more traditional playing.
Accompanied by bassist Morgan Moore and drummer Jim Doxas, James Gelfand gives a real lesson on what is the art of the trio […] We would like to hear such great achievements more often.
Over the past 15 years, I have focused my musical career on scoring soundtracks for movies and television; and while it has been creative and productive, I have missed the pleasure and inspiration of performing and recording improvised music. Then two years ago, out of the blue (not blues…), I got a call from an old high school friend, Mervon Mehta, the musical director of the prestigious Koerner Hall in Toronto, asking me to perform in his 2017 Jazz Trio series, opening for the Christian McBride Trio. Although hesitant at first, being very busy working on films, I started to embrace the idea of getting back into performing, putting a trio together, and creating a repertoire for the concert.
The first order of business was finding a bass player and drummer to accompany me. I immediately thought of Morgan Moore and Jim Doxas. What drew me to these two outstanding musicians was their openness to all styles of music and their technical and improvisational skills. Fortunately, they were both available!
Then there was the repertoire. I have always been drawn to the idea of composing and arranging music for albums with an overall concept in mind. On my album Time Zones, I composed all the tunes with different odd-meter time signatures coupled with very diatonic melodies. Children’s Standards featured arrangements of well-known children themes. My solo album, Convergence, joined classical and jazz styles juxtaposed with classical and jazz composition.
For this new project, I incorporated different types of specific compositional devices to give each tune and arrangement a conceptual vision.
Critic Jeff Mitchell for Toronto Concert Reviews put it this way in his review of the Koener hall concert:
« Acclaimed Montreal-based and Juno-award winning pianist James Gelfand kicked things off with his trio, consisting of bassist Morgan Moore and drummer Jim Doxas… [T]he standard Round Midnight was given a new twist with a Pachelbel Canon feel, which saw the piece evolve into something new that he called Ground Midnight. … [I]t was wonderful to hear an artist reimagining standard repertoire and allowing the listener to comprehend the improvisational creativity of the journey.
Gelfand concluded his set with an original number called Dozen Matter… [He] explained that the closing piece was a revamped blues based on a 12-tone row, where none of the tones in the row can repeat, giving the composition a modernist, atonal feel. It was an exquisite, rollicking performance, and it brought the audience to its feet spontaneously when it was over. Based on that response, it is clear that Gelfand needs to get out of the studio and play live more often – the audience loved him. »
I did get out of my composing studio (for a bit!) and recorded this album.
I hope you enjoy it!