Gregg Gelb
Gig Seeker Pro

Gregg Gelb

Band Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Breakaway: Gregg Gelb Jazz Quartet"

Breakaway: Gregg Gelb Jazz Quartet
Breakaway: Gregg Gelb Jazz Quartet (Gregg Gelb, saxophone/clarinet, Steve Anderson, piano, Steve Haines, bass, & Ben Jensen, drums). MG Records, available from Marsh Woodwinds or Quail Ridge Books and Music, Raleigh, NC, or online from
Gregg Gelb's new recording, Breakaway, is not a radical departure from the swing and bop era sensibilities that have characterized his long-standing associations with Triangle jazz mainstays the Gregg Gelb Swing Band and the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra. However, it is a change of pace in moving Gelb front and center in the context of a traditional piano-based jazz quartet.

Gelb’s sound on both of his horns embodies the musical verities of the swing-to-bop period. He has a rich, rounded saxophone tone that lies in the lineage of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. His clarinet tone is clean, woody, and fluid, evoking Ellington mainstay Russell Procope. His improvisations are less concerned with flaunting their complexity and the player’s technical dexterity than logically extending the lyrical colorations of the theme.

For this outing, Gelb offers a program of seven original compositions. The melodic line of the clarinet feature, “Summer Haze,” suggests a humid, dreamy southern evening. “Boppin’ to the Mambo” is a cooking confection that provides a fine springboard for dense improvisations while retaining an infectious dancing lilt. “Funk It!” is a spacious, vampish line that liberates Gelb and the band to play with the density of their improvisations.

The ballad, “Contemplation” is a clever variation on Duke Ellington’s classic theme, “What Am I Here For?” The tune’s slow tempo gives the listener an opportunity to luxuriate in Gelb’s full, rich tone. Invoking an Ellington theme can be perilous for a tenor saxophonist, as it conjures the ghosts of Ellington orchestra mainstays Webster and Paul Gonsalves, but Gelb rises to the occasion, avoiding flash and offering an eloquent, poised set of variations.

Pianist Steve Anderson is a potent presence throughout the proceedings. His execution is always crisp, his voicings intriguing, and his improvisations consistently surprising. He has an unusual sense of space. Although he is capable of tossing off a dense, rhythmically challenging musical knot within a solo, his improvisations tend to breathe freely, dancing with a wide variety of emotive colorations. His solo on ”All Day All Night” is intriguing and cleverly paced, building in complexity, cleverly varying density and tone over a surprisingly compact sonic space. On”Summer Haze” his solo stretches itself out across the bars as if to suspend time, embodying and emphasizing the languorous feel of the theme. Check out his comping on this tune, where he colors, feeds, and offers intriguing counterpoint to the solos of the leader and the bassist. On “Boppin’ the Mambo” Anderson offers dancing lines and a lilting swing that interlocks nicely with the finely detailed stick work of the drummer.

The band is rounded out with bassist Steve Haines and drummer Ben Jensen. The rhythm mates serve the session rather than calling attention to themselves. Haines offers propulsive support to the proceedings. His swing is sure but unobtrusive. Jensen is a fine colorist, who tastefully contributes throughout the disc.

Stan H. Dick
Note: It is a great honor to welcome distinguished jazz writer (and former Spectator colleague) Stan H. Dick to the pages of Classical Voice of North Carolina


"Review of "Funk It" by the Gregg Gelb Jazz Quartet"

I don't know if your dad ever told you this but you have to be very careful with the funk. It can put permanent (and embarrassing!) stains on your clothes, bumping up your chance of making terrible first impressions in social situations.

Even worse: it can get you mistaken for a smooth jazz musician. Just think, one wrong move and you're sandwiched in between Kenny G and Boney James. Ouch.

As luck would have it, Gregg Gelb knows how to handle the funk. He's got a drummer slinging with that loose-but-tight feel, a sympathetic piano player who can amp up the funk with snazzy unison lines as well as wide-ranging solos, and a bassist who can swing like crazy. This is one fun little tune. The soulful vibe might induce spontaneous body part wavin', but I predict no other social disturbances.
Reviewer: Mark Saleski


CD “Breakaway,” by The Gregg Gelb Jazz Quartet: 2008 (streaming at

CD "A Tribute to Miles Davis," UNCG Jazz Ensemble: 2006

CD Southern Artistry Music Sampler 2006, Southern Arts Federation: 2006

CD "Visions," UNCG Jazz Ensemble: 2004

CD "Let's Face the Music and Dance," Gregg Gelb Swing Band: 2002 (streaming at

CD "Times Fly," (tribute to Benny Goodman) Jon Metzger, Gregg Gelb Quintet: 2001

TV "War Zone," film documentary; arranged and performed soundtrack, GGSB: 2000

TV WUNC-TV, North Carolina Symphony Young People's Concert featuring GGSB: 1999

CD "Too Darn Hot," Gregg Gelb Swing Band: 1999

CD "Benny Goodman, the Swing Collection," North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra: 1999

CD "Duke Ellington
Centennial Collection," North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra: 1999

CD "Live and Swingin', Jim Morgan, Jimmy O'Neill, and Friends," arranged by Gregg Gelb and performed by the GGSB: 1999

CD "Blizzard," North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra: 1997

CD "Then and Now," Gregg Gelb Swing Band: 1995

TV WUNC-TV, "Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert," NC Jazz Repertory Orchestra: 1995

CD "The Gregg Gelb Swing Band, Live": 1993

CD "A New Level," featuring Sir Roland Hanna with Group Sax: 1989

Tape "All's Well," Group Sax: 1991

Tape "Prime Time,” Group Sax: 1987



GREGG GELB is a recipient of the 1997 Jazz Fellowship Award from the North Carolina Arts Council. He has a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, a Master of Music degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and a DMA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. From 1987-1991 he was a Visiting Artist in the North Carolina Community Colleges and he has taught music in universities and public schools throughout North Carolina. In addition to leading the Gregg Gelb Jazz Quartet, Gregg Gelb Swing Band and other small groups, he is founder and director of the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Society, and co-founder and player with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. He teaches Introduction to Jazz online for Central Carolina Community College, and a Jazz Improvisation Workshop and private lessons at Marsh Woodwinds in Raleigh.

Partial List of Presenters and Schools who have hired Gregg and his ensembles over the years:
NC Museum of Art
NC Museum of History
NC Symphony
Artsplosure, Raleigh
Oriental Theatre
Temple Theatre
Duke University Institute of the Arts
Carrboro Arts Center
Friends of the Given Library
Tryon Estates
Fearrington House
Pinehurst Hotel
Raleigh Parks and Recreation
NC School of the Arts
Halifax Community College
Triangle Swing Dance Society
Carolina Inn
Bogart’s, Raleigh (Jazz coordinator 2004 - present)
Sullivan’s, Raleigh (Jazz coordinator 1999 -2004)
Smokehouse Jazz
Cardinal Club, Raleigh
Rowan Public Library
Lee County Centennial
City of Winston Salem
Craven Community Concerts Association, New Bern
Smokehouse Jazz
NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching
Durham Symphony Orchestra
University of North Carolina Alumni Association
University of North Carolina Dental School
University of North Carolina Alumni Club
Quail Ridge Books and Music
Wake Forest Parks and Recreation
Rockingham Community College