Clay Giberson last crossed my radar playing with the Upper Room Trio on last year's well-received Cycling . His current release, Aiming True, Volume 1, is a solo piano excursion into moody, nocturnal climes. Is this jazz? Is this New Age? Does this belong on Hearts of Space ? Affirmative to all three. Labels are not important when the music performed is this finely crafted. Giberson is a careful composer, never wasting notes or harmonies. His playing shimmers with quiet originality and sophistication.
The compositions are tastefully short and devoid of the standard excesses that often plague this type of piano performance. "Meditation #1," "Meditation #2," and "Meditation #3" all possess a striking ambiance of dusk and meditation. Each meditation ripples over subtle changes in timbre and beat. Mr. Giberson coaxes many different colors from a given note, displaying an acutely soft piano touch. "Hello Song" possesses the beautifully improvised qualities of surprise and careful cunning. Prayer is a soulful musing with a relaxing, enriching quality.
Overall, Aiming True is a collection of nocturnes best enjoyed with a snifter of brandy late at night. I hope that the "Volume 1" is not a ploy, as this is very fine listening music.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.