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Take Five With Jeffrey Gimble

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Meet Jeffrey Gimble:
Born and raised in Houston, TX, Gimble grew up going to the gigs of his saxophone-playing father Maynard, who had a popular big band in the '60s and '70s. Despite his natural curiosity for jazz, he was drawn instead to become an actor and musical theater performer and graduated from Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Gimble was a member of the Houston theatre community and subsequently moved to New York City, where he performed in local and regional plays and musicals up through 2006. In 2008 Gimble moved to Los Angeles. At that time, instead of continuing with acting he decided to become a jazz vocalist, which was something he'd always been fascinated with but had never pursued. He currently gigs in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and his hometown of Houston. He's studied with Rhiannon, Kellye Gray, Cathy Segal Garcia and works regularly with noted pianist and arranger Tamir Hendelman.

Instrument(s): Vocalist

Teachers and/or influences? Pianist Tamir Hendelman has been coaching me for the last several years. I tend to be influenced by instrumentalists more than vocalists. That said, I listen a lot to Tamir's trio & the Jeff Hamilton trio, Bill Charlap, Cy Coleman, Bill Evans as well as singers Shirley Horn, Kellye Gray, Rene Marie, Chet Baker, Ann Hampton Callaway, Michael Franks, Dena DeRose, Maysa, Jill Scott and Eliane Elias.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I went on a jazz cruise and watched a stellar array of musicians perform every day for a week. The joy that they shared creating beauty together was so uplifting to listen and watch that I knew I had to be a part of it.

Your sound and approach to music: Since we're living in the age of huge anthem-y singers that blast their top notes out to the heavens, I've gone the opposite direction and try to pull back what I do almost to a whisper. It gives me far more creative room to get right into the heart of the tune and it's much more satisfying. And I'm always looking for another excuse to scat in a tune—that's just one of the freest, purest musical expressions to be around..!

Your dream band: My dream band is exactly who you hear on my CD Beyond Up High. Pianist/arranger Tamir Hendelman playing with the guys that are part of his trio—Ryan McGillicuddy on bass and Dean Koba on drums, in addition to sax master Bob Sheppard. These guys bring passion, precision and joy to everything they do; To work with them is an absolute dream come true.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I'm partial to the recording of It Only Happens When I Dance With You. I find it very joyful in a quiet way and I think it's such a loving tribute to grand old Fred Astaire.

The first Jazz album I bought was: The first recording I remember being strongly influenced by was Shirley Horn's album I Thought About You. Her recording of "Corcovado" is proof positive of the sheer power and artistic freedom in jazz music.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I'm a new guy singer in a field that doesn't have that many guy singers, so that's cool. But more importantly I have an actor's instincts in terms of my approach to lyrics and I know that that influences the delivery of my tunes, in addition to the musical twists and challenges that any jazz singer encounters. I'm hoping listeners hear the tunes in a new way and that they're affected by it as well.

Did you know... I'm obsessed with Japan and all things Japanese. I even speak a little Japanese. I'm dying to gig over there.

CDs you are listening to now: Al JarreauAl Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest Tamir Hendelman—Destinations Tierney SuttonAmerican Road Mark WinklerThe Laura Nyro Project Luciana SouzaThe New Bossa Nova

Desert Island picks: Shirley Horn—I Thought About You Jeff Hamilton Trio—The Best Things Happen Barbra Streisand—Je M'appelle Barbra Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66—Fool on the Hill Yma Sumac—Mambo

How would you describe the state of jazz today? I love this music from the depths of my soul but do wonder where it's headed. Is it dying away or perhaps finding a new beginning? Will young kids discover its appeal or will it simply become something that has a small but highly supportive community of fans? And I wish we could see a resurgence of more and better clubs because I think they are just more inherently interesting and alive environments for jazz than season-subscribed performing arts centers.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Jazz instrumentalist and singers need to be out there, performing and guesting in the mass media to keep the world aware that we're out there and to turn on the folks who still might not really know what we're about.

What is in the near future? Guest vocalist at Vicky's of Santa Fe on May 5th. Vicky's is near Palm Springs, CA. 2:00 p.m.

CD release party for Beyond Up High in LA at Vitello's on May 16th at 8:00 p.m.

What's your greatest fear when you perform? That I'll lose my way as I sing the tune and the meaning, the lyrics and notes will all go terribly terribly south ...

What song would you like played at your funeral? Alberta Hunter singing the "Dark Town Strutters Ball."

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower? I'm very groggy in the a.m. and tend to be quite silent, just hoping to shake the sleep off of me!

By Day: I'm a legal administrator.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: You'd probably find me spending all my time at the local taco hut, drowning my sorrows in plates of crunchy tacos & bad frozen margaritas...


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