Grant Simpson
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"EJazznews.com Review"

CD Review/Grant Simpson/''Stride & True''/
GSM001

Stalwart stride pianist Grant Simpson, struts his stuff amidst the bevvy of other viable mainstream jazz pianists out there in the ether. But, after hearing him expound his unique talents so cogently, I offer him a profound welcome to our beloved jazz genre. Simpson has this wondrous ability to corral a powerful sound, while he musically extols the deeper essence of his renditions, with great control, interesting & contemporary harmonies, & an ''educated'' left hand stride. You can also see the gleam in this guy's eye (Re; His promo pix), which will convince anyone that this is someone who loves ''in earnest'' what he has been blessed to do. Go get em'guy!!

George W. Carroll/The Musicians' Ombudsman

- EJazznews.com


"Muzik Man Review"

I felt it appropriate to start off this review with an explanation of what kind of music Grant Simpson presents on his new album <I>Stride And True</I>. Not everyone knows what the Stride piano style is about and how it got its name. It is a style of jazz piano playing in which the right hand plays the melody and the left hand alternates between the bass notes on the strong beats and chords on the weak ones. Stride piano is one of the oldest styles of jazz piano, a sister of Ragtime, it flourished in the 1920s. The biggest difference between Ragtime and Stride piano playing is its emphasis on improvisation and the flexibility that allows a pianist to "stride" any piece of music.

It becomes apparent rather quickly that Grant Simpson has a deep abiding respect for the history and tradition of this music. He plays with passion and expertise, saluting the masters of the past with his own compositions and more familiar classics of the genre. This CD encompasses a variety of instrumental jazz-ragtime-stride piano music that will delight and stimulate your musical appetite if you are a fan of any of the styles.

I could not help but think of the silent movies and the stars of yesteryear such as Chaplin and Keaton while listening to this music. It put me right into a theater of the 1920’s watching all the crazy chase scenes in their films. I remember listening to the background music from many of those films and how it would pick up in pace as the scenes developed. Great instrumentals create pictures in your mind’s eye and this listening experience was a very effective way to paint those scenes. You do not have to be familiar with silent films to understand the emotion involved in presenting instrumental music that invokes feeling and warmth. Stride piano does all of this and more. I enjoyed the way each composition stands on its own offering something new and different, each one building to a high point then slowing down and building back up again, coming around full circle, which makes it all so emotionally progressive. Considering there are no words to contemplate, your own imagination and creative thought process is instantly ignited and engaged giving you a gentle nudge to access your own feelings and thoughts.

Most jazz music is very complex and requires several listens; I found this music intricate but simple to listen to and understand, not that I do not enjoy the challenge of complex jazz, its intelligent music and always thought provoking, however, it was a nice break to kick back and enjoy the simplicity and rhythm of this music. This is not easy music to perform; it takes great discipline and practice to perfect it. I respect Grant Simpson wholeheartedly for this fine collection of tunes, and along the way have acquired a new found respect and admiration for one of jazz music’s most enjoyable sub-genres. Once you put on this CD you will see what I am talking about, it is like stepping into an eternal time machine.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-http://www.muzikreviews.com
- Muzik Man


"Planet Jazz (Summer/Fall 2004)"

From Whitehorse, Yukon comes some of the best stride piano ever with Stride and True, played by Grant Simpson. "If I Could Be With You" a James P Johnson tune, "On the Street Where You Live," "Echo of Spring" and "Whitehorse Blues" names after Simpson's home town, are some of the tunes played. Simpson hails from Nanaimo, British Columbia (also Diana Krall's home town)and has performed extensively in different parts of the world. Beautifully packaged and presented. Independent. Visit www.grantsimpson.net for info and on-line sales. - Planet Jazz


"Jazz Review.com Review"

It’s always nice to hear a good stride player in this day and age. It was a bit surprising though, to find a stride piano man living in Whitehorse, Yukon. For the uninitiated, the Yukon is the Canadian Territory immediately east of Alaska. The Whitehorse folks are hardy souls who sometimes juggle chainsaws or go street bowling with frozen chickens. Seriously, the Yukon isn’t really that cold and the activities I just mentioned are only done during the Sourdough Rendezvous Days. With a hot piano-man like Simpson on the scene, things will always warm up.

Grant Simpson was born in Diana Krall’s hometown of Nanaimo, BC and has been part of the Canadian west coast scene for some years. He has performed with Fraser McPherson, Alan Matheson and ex-Kenton reedman Roy Reynolds. In recent years, Simpson’s stride talents have been in demand all over the USA and Canada. He is an admired jazz educator and has mentored such people as Ingrid Jensen and singer Caroline Drury. Caroline sent me her first record about five years ago and I became an instant fan.

Stride And True packs a lot of hot piano into fifty-three minutes and it’s a nice mix of composers. Fats Waller, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Clarence Williams, Dick Wellstood, James P.Johnson and Ferdinand Morton are thoroughly represented. Most importantly, there are five of Simpson’s original compositions in the stride style. One of the Grant Simpson pieces, So Beautiful Like You stands out. It’s an easy-going tune taking the listener back to simpler times. A sequence in the melody reminded me of an obscure tune from the 40s called “Fair Jennie’s Lament.” Phil Napoleon’s Memphis Five recorded it about 60 years ago.

Echo of Spring penned by Willie “The Lion” Smith and Clarence Williams is a difficult piece and is seldom performed today. Simpson handles it with confidence and class. It’s almost an obligation for modern stride players to include Jelly’s The Pearls and Waller’s How Can You Face Me in any set. This pianist’s versions will not disappoint the most discriminating listener.

Grant Simpson joins a tight little fraternity of stride preservationists including Dick Hyman, John Sheridan, Mark Shane, Andy Fielding and Canada’s Reide Kaiser. Long may they live!

Tracks: If I Could Be With You; Dollar Dance; Load of Cole; You Can’t Lose a Broken Heart; On The Street Where you Live; So Beautiful Like You; Stridin’ for HJ; The Pearls; Just As Though You Were Here; How Can You Face Me; Viper’s Drag; Love Of My Life; Just Before Daybreak; Echo Of Spring; The Mule Walk; Whitehorse Blues.

Record Label Website: http://www.grantsimpson.net

Artist's Website: http://

Reviewed by: Richard Bourcier - JazzReview.com


Discography

Stride and True (2004)
Solo piano by Grant Simpson
GSM001

New Orleans North! with Lloyd Arntzen,
Alan Matheson, Craig Scott
EP

Seoulo Piano (2001)
Grant Simpson live in South Korea
IND001

You Were Made for Love
Marie Gogo
GGP001

Photos

Bio

Grant Simpson was born in Nanaimo, B.C. Canada. Music was a part of family life, especially the classics from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Three of Grant's grandparents were accomplished pianists and there was no shortage of aspiring (albeit, not always in tune) singers in the family as well.

Grant was enrolled in piano lessons and he soon began to excel at them, showing both promise and enthusiasm. As a teenager, Grant heard a recording of "Fats" Waller and was immediately captivated and inspired.
He began "picking out" sections of the Fats Waller and James P. Johnson recordings by ear and learning everything he could get his hands (or ears) on.

Grant landed his first professional gig when he was 17 at the Nanaimo Golf and Country Club and soon after was hired as house pianist at a local restaurant. Soon after that, Grant was hired as musical director and pianist for the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue, which is located in Canada's Yukon. Grant remains an active performer in the show today and is now half owner of the business.

During the past 25 years, Grant has performed in hundreds of diverse venues throughout the world including Korea, the Caribbean, United States and Canada. He has appeared as a featured artist at many concerts and festivals including The Vancouver Dixieland Festival, Hermann's Jazz Club, on the MS Oosterdam, Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel and many more. He has been a featured artist on CBC's famed Jazz Programs "Disc Drive" and "Hot Air"

He performs with Alan Matheson, Lloyd Arntzen, Caroline Drury and others as often as possible.