AVAILABLE NOW on Motéma Music:
Visionary Pianist Gerald Clayton Merges Streams of Life
Into Greater Body of Work with Tributary Tales
Upcoming National Tour Celebrates Release
"His pellucid touch and quicksilver phrasing can evoke swinging touchstones
like Ahmad Jamal and Oscar Peterson - as well as contemporary heroes
like Brad Mehldau. But in his rhythm bond with Sanders and Brown, and
in the slant of his harmonic signature, Clayton has carved out
his own space in the modern conversation." -- WBGO
Pianist/composer Gerald Clayton is proud to announce a national tour in support of his upcoming album Tributary Tales (available now on Motéma Music). The album, his first since 2013's Life Forum, traces paths of myriad streams -- personal, experiential, intangible -- that flow into one another, creating a musical narrative greater than the sum of his individual compositions.
"I feel like the various encounters in my life are in their own way tributaries -- like every trip is somehow an opportunity to discover a new type of bend in the river," Clayton says. "The various places, people, foods and cultures I've been able to experience in my travels, all the musicians I gathered for this project and all the songs I've written -- there's a feeling of connectedness between them, even though they're all their own separate entities."
Clayton imbues Tributary Tales with a range of influences, including dialects and vocabulary handed down from his father, bassist and composer John Clayton and uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, to contemporary expressions he heard growing up as a child of the '80s and early '90s. In Clayton's unique vision, those diverse inspirations are impossible to unravel, melding together into a sound that resonates with modern styles as boldly as it evokes classic and timeless sounds.
To record Tributary Tales, Clayton assembled a group of artists both new and familiar, each of whom brings additional, unique influences and experiences to the music. Saxophonists Logan Richardson, Ben Wendel and Dayna Stephens, bassist Joe Sanders, drummer Justin Brown and percussionists Henry Cole and Gabriel Lugo join guest vocalist Sachal Vasandani and poets Carl Hancock Rux and Aja Monet to bring life to Clayton's range of alluring compositions.
"The process is really natural," Clayton says. "When I'm in the experience of creating something, I try to open my ears and to be as selfless and open as possible. I grew up listening to and loving hip-hop, R&B, soul and rock. To me, they all flow from a single source. The cultural relevance of jazz and hip-hop is all the same; we're talking about black music -- about black expression -- so it doesn't feel right to build any dams across those streams.
"Even though we're all separate streams, we all come from the same ocean," he says. "If we all just take a step back we can see that all human experience is essentially the same -- the suffering, the will to transcend that suffering, our joys, our sorrows -- they're all connected. I'd love for the music on this record to remind people of our interconnectedness."
While different songs may spark certain memories or recall images to his mind, Clayton says it's not as simple as a single experience inspiring a single piece of music. Just like our personalities are subtly shaped by the gradual accumulations of circumstance and events, so is his compositional voice invisibly molded by the places he's been, the people he's met -- even the meals he's eaten. "I can point to those moments in life when the experience feels otherworldly, almost like a taste of transcendence. A bowl of pasta in Italy, falling in love, making a connection with a new friend from another part of the world, surfing -- the feeling of tapping into the energy of the ocean and dancing with it -- those are all really special moments and, in their own way, artistic beauty."
The tributaries of Clayton's fascination with language and his multi-faceted gifts as a musician merge gracefully in his poetic liner notes for Tributary Tales.
Gerald Clayton · Tributary Tales
Motéma Music · Release Date: April 21, 2017
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