An exhilarating, swinging pianist with exceptional technique and a clear sense of musical direction, 29-year old Gerald Clayton is regarded as one of the fastest-rising stars on the US jazz scene. Not long after relocating from Los Angeles to New York, he was runner-up in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, in 2006. Gerald is the son of renowned bassist John Clayton (and nephew of saxophonist Jeff Clayton), so his early professional experiences included work with the Clayton Brothers Quintet, and he has gone on to work with such names as Roy Hargrove (from 2006-09), Diana Krall, Melissa Morgan, Kendrick Scott, Terri Lynne Carrington and Ambrose Akinmusire.
But it is with the Gerald Clayton Trio that he has really started to attract recognition (including several Grammy nominations) and praise. The Trio features bassist Joe Sanders (coincidentally, a runner-up in the Thelonious Monk competition in 2009 ; he has played with artists including Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, Geri Allen and Mulgrew Miller, and leads his own band, Joe Sanders’ Infinity). The most recent addition to the Trio is drummer Pete Van Nostrand (who has been active on the New York scene since 2000, and has worked with artists including Jeremy Pelt, Eric Reed, Kenny Barron and Kurt Elling, and has also worked with Michael Buble and Natalie Cole).
The Gerald Clayton Trio has released three albums since 2009 : Two-Shade, Bond and, most recently, Life Forum (Concord Jazz). These feature both original compositions and Gerald’s knack for re-inventing familiar standards, and display the rare rapport that he has developed over several years with Joe and Justin. Life Forum also reveals a new aspect to Gerald’s composing skills, with horns and voices added to the ensemble.
At 29, Gerald is a young musician who has a strong understanding of the jazz tradition, but is also fluent in the range of styles that make up today’s jazz lexicon.
For their concert on Sunday, Gerald and the Trio will be joined by several guests, outstanding student musicians from the Monash University jazz program. Following workshops and rehearsals in the week leading up to the festival, they will perform some of Gerald’s music from Life Forum, and some original compositions by some of the Monash guests.
Friday night’s concert will go live-to-air on abcjazz.net.au and ABC Dig Jazz ; and will be replayed later on ‘Jazztrack with Mal Stanley’ ABC Classic FM.
“Individually and collectively, (the Gerald Clayton Trio’s) performance was at a stunningly high professional level–enhanced by the enthusiastic feeling of exhilaration in everything they played.” – ‘Los Angeles Times’
“… an Oscar Peterson-like style, highly controlled touch and dynamics and rhapsodic, episodic soloing” – ‘New York Times’
“Clayton knows his jazz history…………But he wasn’t giving any history lessons. By the end of the night, the trio’s meticulous language was in super-focus. This was jazz that pokes deep inside your brain; those neural explosions weren’t just for the musicians. They were for the audience, too.” – mercurynews.com
(photo by Devin De Haven)
presented in association with Sir Zelman Cowan School Of Music, Monash University