Although jazz comprises no more than 4% of CD sales nationally, there exists a cornucopia of good to excellent jazz musiciansfemale vocalists, pianists, and saxophonists especially. You can put 44-year-old Baltimore native Gary Thomas in the "excellent" column. Having played with trumpeters Miles Davis and Wallace Roney, Thomas is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. At the time of the Wolfwalk recording in June of last year, Swedish-born bassist Joel Grip and drummer Devin Gray were both students there.
While he's respected among jazz musicians for his forward thinking, the public's awareness of Thomas sadly remains low. Wolfwalk will hopefully change that. The new trio date walks the line between modern mainstream and free jazz, tilting more towards the latter. The seven original compositions, which almost blend into one fifty-minute extended piece, are characterized by the dark, brooding, searching sound of Thomas' saxophone, coupled with the beefy, full bass of Grip and the gentle explosions of Gray. Listening closely to one another, the three take the music where their impulses dictatethe outer, yet still accessible realms of jazz music. Wolfwalk is cutting edge. True jazz fans will find this music enlightening.
Track Listing: Gryphus Medley; Slow Bluuesss; Who
Personnel: Devin Gray: drums; Joel Grip: bass; Gary Thomas: tenor saxophone.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.