On his solo piano effort Aiming True, Clay Giberson is like a poet, center stage, naked, voicing deep personal musings; or a singer, a cappella, seeking truths with the rhythm of the syllables, the rise and fall of intonations in a world seemingly indifferent to the search. Just Clay Giberson, two hands and a piano, and a universe of probing sound in eighty-eight keys.
Mr. Giberson came to my attention with the Upper Left Trio's Cycling (Origin, 2003), a piano/electric bass/drums outing with a lot of energy and verve – a fun sound with a satisfying depth to it. Going it alone on Aiming True, Giberson delves into a more meditative, even spiritual feeling. The pianist wears his soul on his sleeve here, and he wears it well, with a sound reminiscent of some of the early solo recordings of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea.
"Reverence" is a word that keeps floating (in the reviewer's mind) around the chords and melodies. There are three "Meditations" here, a "Giving Thanks," and a closing "Prayer"; while the liner notes by the artist – short, concise, beautifully and poetically written – suggest a Zen-like outlook on life and music, and they ring true, like the music on this disc.
They say that John Coltrane went looking for God with his saxophone, and that he damned near found him. It seems Clay Giberson is on a similar search with his piano. At this stage of it, his sound is intimate and personal, full of thought-provoking beauty.