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Grant Geissman - Cool Man Cool

Cool Man Cool

Grant Geissman

Futurism Records - FR-2054

Available from Amazon.com

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

Uh-oh, you may be thinking: "Grant Geissman! Wasn't he the cat who put out all those weenie elevator jazz slabs? The guy who, along with Phil Upchurch and God only knows how many other string twanglers, made syrup soup an annoying household buzz?" Well, yes indeed he was, but I'm exceedingly happy to announce the boy's changed his erstwhile ways…and, yow, what a change!

The Miles Thompson liner art alone tips you off to just how uber-cool this CD is: a canvas of the 50s tiki art the painter Shag has made so hep again in the 20th/21st century, in this case crammed with cultural references (Maynard G. Krebs, Alfred E. Neuman, caricatures of some of the sessioneers, etc.). Probably most ironic is the fact that Geissman took on board a boatload of other musicians who similarly wussed out on the mostly regrettable elevator jazz craze—Patrice Rushen, Chick Corea (blame Scientology here, not "smooth jazz"), Tom Scott, and others—and all seem to be solidly locked back in the old tru-jazz groove along with him...at least as far as this excellent release indicates.

Geissman was always a talented player who I and many felt was wasting his gifts on glossy radio crapola, and this CD makes up for lost time with a vengeance. Crit muckamuck Bill Milkowski called the past wont a "flirtation" and, well, okay, to soft soap the scenario, we'll go along with it. With Cool Man Cool, however, all is forgiven. This swings, bops, chills, and trots out a menagerie of chops in the old West Coast Cool vein with considerable updates. In many ways, though, especially in cuts like Even If…", there's a strong Desmond feel to Geissman's guitar playing, that calculated steps-ahead form of thinking Anthony Braxton was so enamored of in Paul.

Besides the above-noted, Van Dyke Parks, Russ Ferrante, Mike Finnegan, Jerry Hahn, Charlie Bisharat, Alex Acuna, and others make appearances. I mean, this thing is star studded, loaded to the gills with top shelf playing, engineered like a diamond necklace, and packaged in a very sturdy heavy-duty gatefold LP-type jacket replete with extensive liner notes on one broadsheet, credits on another, an illustrated CD sleeve, and even a set of tatoo transfers!

Cool Man Cool is the sort of fare you always suspected Geissman could put out. The halcyon days of Benson, Wes, Kessell, Burrell, Green, and all those way-too-righteous axehandlers is once again showcased. Listen to the absolutely burning exchanges with Jerry Hahn on "One for Jerry", and I'm here and now certifying you ain't NEVER heard the guy play like this…er, unless, of course, you picked up the slab before this one, Say That!, another disc of the cat's pajamas and the CD that prefigured this one. Therefore, look out for both, not just this one, and 86 all the square fodder elsewhere. Break out the martini shaker, settle into the pad for a gone session, and get ready for a trip to hipsville, cats 'n kitties, 'cause Cool Man Cool is hot hot hot!

Track List:

  • Cool Man Cool
  • Chicken Shack Jack
  • Too Late for School
  • Chuck and Chick
  • Evan If…
  • Dig Some Sides?
  • One for Jerry
  • Minnie Lights Out
  • Tiki Time
  • Nawlins
  • Crazy Talk
  • Ya Think?
  • Mad Skillz
  • Cool Blooz
All songs written by Grant Geissman.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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