Gerry Grosz is a thirty something New Yorker (Poughkeepsie) now making San Francisco his home base. Grosz is a student of Jay Hoggard, a player noted for his progressive jazz on vibes having worked with such avant-garde giants as Cecil Taylor and Sam Rivers. On his first two albums, it's clear that while Grosz may have emulated his teacher's technique, he didn't go all the way to his part of the jazz spectrum.
His first album Onramp is devoted entirely to Grosz compositions and show Grosz's sense of humor, a trait which shows up on his web page. Some of them have to do with food, it's preparation and eating. Others are musical impressions of specific events in Grosz's relatively short career. All mysteries are revealed in the entertaining liner notes. Most of the tunes are medium or up tempo pieces which are well executed but almost interchangeable. "Avocado Blues" shows imagination with some telling drum breaks by Curt Moore and with the presence of some fancy fluting by Roger Glenn. A practitioner of the four-mallet technique which produces a fuller sound than the two stick method, Grosz has both feet into the more contemporary approach to the vibes as practiced not only by his teacher, but by the likes of Gary Burton, Peter Appleyard and the current vibes rage, Joe Locke.
The latest album, The Cosmic Buzz, (Grosz has a way of using eye-catching themes for his albums), is a bit more varied. While still featuring Grosz compositions, the play list is seasoned with works by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, a couple by drummer Phil Hawkins and two standards. Maybe it has something to do with the technical preparation of the CD, but Grosz's playing is much crisper, less muffled, than on the first effort. This is apparent on such cuts as the bop anthems "Bernie's Tune" and "Nostalgia in Times Square". Bob Brumbeloe contributes major guitar licks on this tune making it one of the album's highlights. Another winner is "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" featuring bassist Jim Kerwin carrying the tune with Grosz doing the rhythm for most of the cut creating a compelling deviation from the norm.
Both albums oare recommended. But if limited to a single choice, go with the second because of the more varied program. See Gerry's humorous web page at www.thevibe.net/gg.
Personnel: Gerry Grosz - Vibraphone; Robin Lewis - 7 String Guitar; Chuck Metcalf - Bass; Curt Moore - Drums; Roger Glenn* - Flute; Damien Masterson - Chromatic Harmonica# Gerry Grosz - Vibraphone; Jim Kerwin - bass; Phil Hawkins - Drums; Bob Brumbeloe - Guitar