Jerry Granelli

What I Hear Now
Addo Records AJR030

By Ken Waxman

This isn’t your father’s Jerry Granelli record – or even the one from your childhood. Granelli, known for his drumming on Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown records and rock and jazz sideman work, has become a sophisticated compose/arranger since his move to Halifax 1987. Aptly named, What I Hear Now finds the now 75-year-old percussionist showcasing seven of his compositions backed by four Haligonians and one ringer from Upper Canada.

Actually Toronto-based tenor saxophonist Mike Murley was also born in Nova Scotia and his contributions fit in with the others like a Cape Breton kilt matches a local tam o’shanter. Long-time Granelli associates, soprano and tenor saxophonist Dani Oore and bassist Simon Fisk are also featured along with trombonist Andrew Jackson and alto saxophonist Andrew MacKelvey. More than textural embroidery, the horn parts fold over and around one another like sections of a well-designed bespoke suit, adding more vivid colors to a foot-tapper like “Run Danny Run” which also highlights thumping darbuka-like echoes from Granelli’s drums. Other allusions are suggested by different tracks, such as McKelvey’s barbed tone approximating a figure slinking down an alley on “Mystery”; or the evocative harmonies of “Another Place”, where individual horns nimbly move up in pitch before blending into Cool School harmonies.

Unfettered zeal animates “Dance for Me” and “The Swamp”, both of which are built up from Fisk’s throbbing three-string patterns. A groove tune, the latter is a feature for Jackson, whose fat slide stretches and plunger sophistication lead to a contrapuntal duel with MacKelvey, underscored by cymbal clatter and completed with exciting cross patterns from the drummer. The most outside tune of this session, “Dance for Me” breezes along with an unhurried air, then like a jet reaching the end of the runway gradually revs up, as notes and tones fly from everyone involved.

Depending on how long you’ve followed his career, this CD may or may not contain the sorts of sounds you expect from Granelli. With its remarkable playing and writing, it aptly illustrates the promise of the title.

Tracks: Prologue; Run Danny Run; Walter White; Mystery' Dance for Me; Another Place; The Swamp.

Personnel: Andrew Jackson: trombone; Dani Oore: soprano and tenor saxophones; Andrew MacKelvey: alto saxophone; Mike Murley: tenor saxophone; Simon Fisk: 3-string basetto; Jerry Granelli: drums

—For The New York City Jazz Record November 2015