Grant Geissman's lengthy career as a guitarist and composer started in the early '70s. His résumé includes the guitar solo on flugelhornist Chuck Mangione's 1978 hit single "Feels So Good," a discography of around 15 albums as leader and compositions for TV such as the theme for the CBS comedy Two And A Half Men. Bop! Bang! Boom! is the final installment of a trilogy that also includes Say That! (Futurism, 2006) and Cool Man Cool (Futurism, 2009). As before, it features a strong core band plus guest appearances from Geismann's friends and colleagues including saxophonist Tom Scott, guitarists Larry Carlton and Albert Lee, and Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, on accordion.
The single defining characteristic of the music on this album, all written by Geissman, is its lack of a single defining characteristicexcept, perhaps, its immediate likeability. There are a couple of smooth Latin tunes, "Samba En Menor" and "Un Poco Español," while there's a slow, swampy, blues, "Take Yer Time," which features Geissman's TV music writing partner Dennis C Brown and TV producer Chuck Lorre in a three-guitar lineup. "Boom!" provides some funk, with lovely unison lines from Geismann and Brian Scanlon on tenor saxophone, "The Singularity" is rooted in bebop, "Q Tip" mixes funk and boogie into an irrepressibly danceable tune, and there's even a spot of electric sitar on the Indian-influenced "Go To The Window." The lyrical "Guitarism," on which Geissman overdubs two guitars and palmas (flamenco-style handclaps), is the album's gentlest and prettiest number, though it's in a close run with the sweet "Good Morning, Mr Phelps," which features Scanlon on soprano sax.
"$25 Stella" is a slinky, accordion-led Cajun number, on which Geissman adds a spiky solo played on the 1966 Stella acoustic guitar which has been in his family for three generations (and which may or may not have originally cost the titular sum). The tune is additionally distinguished by the accordion duo of Parks and Doug Lacey, and underpinned by the warm bass notes of Trey Henry's tuba. Cheekily, Geissman follows up with "Texas Shuffle," pretty much the same tune but reworked as an up-tempo guitar shuffle featuring Lee, Carlton and Geissman, all delivering fine solos.
Bop! Bang! Boom! might well be subtitled How To Have Fun With A Guitar, Some Friends And A Cool Bunch Of Tunes. To remain in keeping with the retro-style of artist Miles Thompson's wonderful sleeve design, it seems only fair to award Bop! Bang! Boom! the prestigious epithet of "Groovy!" Which is, of course, very high praise.
Track Listing: Boom!; The Singularity; Q Tip (for Quincy Jones); Un Poco Español; Go To The Window; Good Morning, Mr Phelps; $25 Stella; Texas Shuffle; Samba En Menor; Guitarism; Take Yer Time; Off The Grid.
Personnel: Grant Geissman: guitars, electric sitar, palmas; Brian Scanlon: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute; Emilio Palame: piano, Fender Rhodes; Trey Henry: acoustic bass, tuba; Ray Brinker: drums; Alex Acuna: congas, bongos, percussion; Brian Kilgore: percussion; Tom Scott: tenor saxophone(3), alto saxophone (12); Tom Rainier: piano (2, 9); Corey Allen: piano (11); Jim Cox: Hammond organ (3, 12); Greg Mathieson: Hammond organ (8); Michael Finnigan: Hammond organ (11); Russell Ferrante: Fender Rhodes (4, 6); Doug Lacey: accordion (7); Van Dyke Parks; accordion (7); Albert Lee: guitar (8); Larry Carlton: guitar (8); Dennis C Brown: guitar, harmonica (11); Chuck Lorre: guitar (11); Leland Sklar: electric bass (11); Kevin Axt: acoustic bass (2, 4, 6, 8, 9).
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.