Trumpeter Greg Gisbert is a modern-day equivalent of such predecessors as Conte Condoli, Marvin Stamm, Richard Williams, and Clark Terry. That is to say he has spent much of his young musical career in the big bands (Buddy Rich and Maria Schneider) and doing studio work that while providing a living doesn't necessarily make for high visibility among the record-buying public. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Gisbert has never lacked for work over the years and has been lucky enough to appear on a number of fine releases as of late (Mickey Tucker's Hang in There, on SteepleChase, comes to mind) in addition to cutting two previous discs for Criss Cross Jazz.
The album at hand, The Court Jester, is Gisbert's most impressive outing to date and the maturity shown in his writing is most apparent. For proof of that, one needs look no further than the album's two highlights. "The Love Dirge" starts with a military snare drum opening that leads to a swaggering line that Gisbert's muted horn makes the most of (shades of Ellington and Strayhorn to be sure!) The title track then goes for broke, with a dense scoring that develops a momentum all of its own. Gisbert's incendiary trumpet shouts towards the conclusion are certainly some of his finest recorded moments to date.
Elsewhere one gets the sense that Gisbert was trying to present a taste of all the recent writing tricks he has added to his arranger's bag. The tunes are unusual and the voicings for this large ensemble (that includes trombone, saxophones, and flutes) are sonorous and delightful. It should also be mentioned that the crack rhythm team of pianist Janice Friedman, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Gregory Hutchinson adds support that can only be described as perfect. And while Gisbert's comments in the liner notes tend to suggest that he's a bit hard on himself in terms of his own playing, the fact remains that there's nothing here that seems at all superfluous or mundane. The Court Jester is a memorable disc that will stand up over repeated listening and what more could you want then that?
Track Listing: Robyn Song, The Love Dirge, The Court Jester, Soft Snow, Smile, My Ideal, Waltz for Toots, Dizzy Atmosphere (57:22)
Personnel: Greg Gisbert- trumpet & fluegelhorn, Conrad Herwig- trombone, Tim Ries- tenor sax, soprano sax & flute, Jon Gordon- alto and soprano sax, Janice Friedman- piano, Jay Anderson- bass, Gregory Hutchinson- drums.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.