Greg Grant
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Greg Grant

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Singer/Songwriter Greg Grant obviously has had a lot of time to brew his complex and detailed style of writing and playing music. There is no doubt that he is an accomplished player in this business: he wrote, recorded, produced, sang, played the saxophone, flute, organ, and guitar for all of the tracks on this 65-minute record. Despite his versatility, though, it is Grant's guitar playing that is the highlight and backbone of this album. Grant's guitar lines are filled with mini-flourishes, bookends of phrases that are done-up with impossibly fast ornamentation. Among the multiple time changes, Grant's guitar flows freely like a country brook, rapidly colliding with rocks, twisting, creating eddies, and joyfully splashing its way downstream. Though the term "folk-rock" might deter some of you, let me emphasize that Grant has created a wonderful little way of writing and playing for himself that is so definitely unique. Complimenting his guitar, Grant possesses a raspy tenor, akin both to Dave Matthews and David Gray. The energetic drums of Guido Perla and the solid acoustic double-bass of James Whiton keep up well with Grant's acoustic flurries and whirlwinds. Interspersed throughout the album are Grant's saxophone and electric guitar solos, which usually are appropriately supportive of the whole groove rather than swallowing up the background.


At first the tracks that are the most impressive are the upbeat jaunts that most easily showcase Grant's playing ability and spirited songwriting. Such is the case with the stuttering guitar lines on "Kings and Queens", with the pretty harmonics-driven chorus of "You and I", and the Hispanic flavor of "Sunshine." Upon closer inspection, though, it is during the more moody, quieter tracks that Grant displays his best success in creating unique textures and feelings. The pervasive, almost inquisitive bowed-bass work on "Impossible Goodbye" helps establish the track's slight uneasiness. When the accompaniment drops out entirely (intermittently) on the last verse, Grant's lone, jittery guitar also achieves a sense of unsurety. (With the use of the saxophone Grant really starts sounding like Dave Matthews here.)


Some of the strongest material on the album is entirely instrumental, however. "Blind to What I See" is a dreamy track that achieves an introspective tone despite its feisty, carefully picked guitar work. The weaving melody of "Tired Wanderer" might be the most beautiful on the whole record. Unfortunately, an electric guitar solo blares a little too loud and trivializes this otherwise excellent track. (Grant also makes the same mistake by making the electric guitar solo a little too prominent in the mix during "Mrs. Green Blues.") "Like Carlos Vamos", another instrumental track, ends the album on a strong note.


Grant's lyrical material reveals him to be a sort of hopeful hippie. As the rather admittedly hokey cover art shows, Grant is interested in the heavenly bodies perhaps observing and knowing what we humans are up to. The stars are mostly seen as benevolent beings who are perhaps disdainful of our more foolish activities. "They Know Our Names": "The stars are shining down/It's amazing how/We forget that they/Watch us all our days." Earlier in the track Grant engages in some foolish new age earth-worship: "The time has come/To kneel upon the ground/And praise our mother earth/Realize what's she's worth." Later in the album, on "The Same," this interest in the sky takes a more appealing and challenging approach, however. The track is brimming with this silky, mysterious energy, much like that of the Doors' "The End." Grant uses a sustained organ to support the song's winding, yet confrontational structure. "Don't take your eyes off the sun/Or stare too long/You will find the way/If you ask the sun." Despite the conjoined dare and warning, Grant still doesn't escape falling into some sort of animism.


Perhaps the strongest track overall is "Hands", the last track in which Grant sings. For the first and the last time on the album, Grant shows some full-fledged, real heartbreak here, and the result is lovely. A breathy flute mourns over the affair, and Grant placed a wonderful little false stop at the end of every chorus. You have to love the way that Grant lilts "California", pouring all of his heartache into the word. Finally, Grant did a good job suppressing his naturally spirited guitar playing here, and instead made it supportively wistful. Beautiful.


This Montana man has flown under the radar for too long. The time has come for bearded folkies and jam-band fans everywhere to prick up their ears and take notice. Maybe we've found a likely candidate to dethrone that Dave Matthews himself. That would be one welcome regime change (among others), in this reviewer's opinion.

www.alteredstaterecords.com
- CDreviews.com


Greg Grant has traveled to many places around the world, absorbing the atmosphere of different cities and different cultures into his music. Not to say that Grant plays world music; it definitely falls into the realm of jazz, but with hints and flavors of the places Grant has traveled. Bisbe Street focuses on his 3-year stay in Barcelona, and combines the worldly cosmopolitan feel of the streets of that city with Dave Brubeck influenced compositions and a plaintive, fiery, emotional approach to playing his alto sax.

This is easy to listen to, but it's far from so-called "smooth jazz", with it's stripped down instrumentation (along with Grant on alto sax is Guido Perla on drums and James Whiton on bass) and creative approach. The album kicks off in fine fashion with the jaunty Mil Cositas (which means something like "a thousand small things"), a fun romp in the tradition of Brubeck's classic Take Five . While there's honestly not much here for space and psych fans, Grant does delve occasionally into things a little freakier like the sliding, funky Silver Duck , with its cool wah-wah'd bass, and the almost spacey, Hammond organ drone of The Calling . Much of the album, though, stays traditional while still being inventive and engaging, with tracks like the soulful and melancholy When it Falls , the minimalist drums and sax of The Loneliest Immortal , and the lazy and affecting dance of the title track.

I've never been to Barcelona, and if Greg Grant doesn't quite conjure up visions of a city I've never seen, his music lets me know what it feels like to have been there. I really enjoyed this album.

Verging more into experimental and challenging, though still quite accessible territory is another of Grant's projects, this one called Musth . On Musth , Grant takes us on the backs of elephants into the heart of the Middle East and India. He chooses, however, to create his sound not on exotic eastern instruments, but with clever interpretations of Eastern sounds on his alto sax, similar to what Tony Scott did with his clarinet back in the late 60's on his classics Music for Zen Meditation and Music for Yoga Meditation . On this album, Grant also plays nylon stringed guitar and is joined by percussionist Jonathan Bernson.

There's less of a reliance on melody and structure here than there was on Bisbe Street , with more interest here in texture and soundscapes, showing Grant to be a player of both talent and versatility. And if the music is particularly evocative, so are the titles of the tracks, such as Midnight Caravan ,Cursed by Gypsies ,Darquitar (Seven Claws) ,Salt in the Wind , and Walking the Dunes , to name a few.

There are 14 tracks in all, most of them shorter studies in sound, all improvised, but they work together as a whole to create their exotic and intoxicating atmosphere. In fact, the word Musth, according to the liner notes, is a word of Persian origin, now used in the language of Northern India, and it means "a state of intoxication". A very appropriate title for this project.

Even though Bisbe Street and Musth are very different sounding albums, Grant does display a style on the alto sax that is definitely his own, and it can be heard throughout both of these excellent releases from Altered State Records.

For more information you can visit Greg Grant at the Altered State Records web site at: http://www.alteredstaterecords.com .
Contact via snail mail c/o Altered State Records; PO Box 191; Fortine, MT 59918.

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

- Aural Innovations #20


Not many of Montana's musicians have attempted to tread upon the ground of pop music. Greg Grant, of Fortine, has taken a brave step that direction. Not only did Grant stride confidently onto the pop street, he also recorded his album, `` After the Crash,'' at a solar-powered, straw bale studio. And he achieved a nice sound. Much like Sting, Grant has a higher pitched voice that, because of a nice use of reverberation, seems to float. In fact, all of his music seems to have a floating quality. He plays his guitars with a light picking strum, playing off the gentle sound of an acoustic, and the drifting sound of an electric. Grant also plays the saxophone, straying away from the traditional jazz into a much more ethereal sound. Lyrically, `` After the Crash'' is a bit cliche, and Grant does have a tendency toward those decidedly pop words, such as yeayeayea, and heyayay, but the unique music and Grant's voice make this CD an enjoyable experience. The sounds of `` After the Crash'' can turn a lonely night into an imaginative adventure. -- ``

After the Crash'' is available at Rockin Rudy's, or look on the Web at www.alteredstaterecords.com. -Erica Parfit

- Missoulian's


After the Crash is the sophomore release by singer/songwriter Greg Grant, who also plays alto sax and acoustic guitar on this nine-track collection. Grant originates from New York and started playing music at a young age. He was inspired by the Muppet Zoot to learn the saxophone. For a number of nomadic years he traveled and was exposed to a variety of musical styles that he has incorporated into own sound. Greg has settled in Northwestern Montana and recorded After the Crash at the Straw Bale Studios, an off the grid solar-powered studio constructed of straw bales. Greg writes intimate introspective songs that are musically pure and simple. He sings from the heart and beautifully blends diverse genres such as jazz, folk rock, classical and world. Fans of the Dave Matthews Band might appreciate Grant whose voice reminds me of Dave's and many of his tunes have that distinctive international sound. Greg's songs about love and life run smoothly into each other as tones and moods subtly change. The opening track 'In Love Again' opens with good guitar rifts, insightful lyrics and a soulful sax. 'Serpent Lady' has a mysterious Spanish feel with flamenco guitars and a sassy sax. Greg is a multi-talented artist and After the Crash captures his varied skills and styles in a collection of free expressive songs.

¥ Recommended Tracks: (1,3) [USA/MT 2001 - web]
(Review by Laura Turner Lynch for www.Kweevak.com)
- www.Kweevak.com


Psychedelic, mellow, folky, jazzy, straightforward rock 'n roll. "In Love Again" is an engaging journey, mixing a groovey modern rock-ish flavor. "Serpent Lady" has a similarly catchy feel. "The Saddest Hardest Thing," meanwhile, is folkier. Great range; a mixture of styles with broad appeal, suitable for festivals, clubs, arenas, or coffeehouses. by Dan Macintosh

- Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter


Discography

Jupiter Watches- October 2003
Bisbe Street- November 2002
After The Crash- November 2001
Musth: Greg Grant & Jon Bernson- November 1994

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Bio

Greg Grant started playing music when his mother made him take violin lessons when he was 8, that didn't last long, however, and Zoot from the Muppet Show inspired him to start playing the saxophone at the age of 9, and he's been playing ever since. Born in New York City, raised in New York State, he grew up near one of the most diverse melting pot cities on the planet. He studied classical and jazz at Oberlin college/conservatory for a bit, but realized that he wanted to experience life and music outside the walls of an ivory tower. He admires and is inspired by many different styles of music from all over the world ranging from jazz to rock, folk to techno, classical to electronic, ambient, textural, flamenco and Arabic. This love of diversity caused him to travel around quite a bit, he has lived in Barcelona, Spain for 3 years but has been more or less nomadic, traveling around Europe, Canada, Central America, and the U.S.A. Now based in northwestern Montana, Greg has founded Strawbale Studios, but he is always traveling around, finding new influences and inspiration for his music.

After being mainly a saxophonist for many years, he has added guitar, voice, and drums to his musical palette. He came to the realization that his favorite musicians were the ones who could write well crafted songs, that serve as a springboard into improvised jamming. He has added his musical style to various bands, including jazz orchestras, world music groups, blues bands, rock bands, funk rock bands, and experimental groups. He has done countless solo performances as well at nightclubs, cultural centers, universities, festivals, concert halls at parks and on the street all over north America and Europe. Greg is a sonic adventurer who likes to explore unknown territory. The music that attracts him dives into deep places that pulls, both him and his listeners along. Some major influences on him are: King Crimson, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens, Greg Brown, John Fogerty, John Coltrane, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Ali Farka Toure, The Beatles, Brian Eno, Wim Mertens, Steven Reich, Laurie Anderson, Keith Jarrett and Dead Can Dance.

When asked about himself, Greg replied, " I love developing my skills as a songwriter and musician, but it is only to serve the music. I'm not interested in huge amounts of technique that show off my abilities and stroke my ego. Technique is necessary, but only to the point that it allows the music to come through fluidly and powerfully. I think that if you approach music with this attitude then you end up doing things that you never would've been able to imagine. The music uses you and plays through you and what comes out of you is a surprise, even to yourself! I 'm not interested in playing something over and over again, even if it's at a high level of playing. I'm interested in using songs I am comfortable with in order to get to that place where I can go away from the song to an unknown, magical place that even I don't know about, and then come back to the song. I love musicians that have that proper balance of structure and freedom. Too much structure leaves me bored and stifled, and too much freedom leaves me wanting something more solid and well crafted... It's a difficult thing to achieve, but it's what I strive for."