Brilliant young pianist, Gerald Clayton, was schooled in hard-swinging, melodic jazz by his father, bassist & composer, John Clayton, his uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and his mentors, Billy Childs and Kenny Barron. More recently, he has collaborated with the innovators of his own generation and embarked on his own expressive musical journey.
The New York Times raved about Clayton’s “huge authoritative presence and highly controlled touch and dynamics.”
Join us as Tri-C JazzFest & BLU Jazz+ welcome Gerald’s all-star trio to the Rubber City for an intimate, up-close performance and hear why DownBeat Magazine says Gerald “stands out for his nuanced touch, precise articulation and the way he constructs a narrative for his solos.”
Over the course of eight years, with three albums as a leader, several studio projects as a sideman, and countless worldwide performances, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has established himself as a leading figure in the up-and-coming generation of jazz artists who are fluent in the range of styles that make up today’s jazz lexicon. Hailed by The New York Times for his “huge, authoritative presence,” Clayton is well on his way toward etching his own enduring mark in the long and rich tradition of jazz. Never has this been more apparent than in Life Forum, his latest recording on Concord Jazz and his most ambitious project to date.
Born in the Netherlands in 1984 and raised in Southern California, Clayton took his first piano lessons before age seven with the full support and encouragement of his father, the acclaimed jazz bassist, composer and bandleader, John Clayton. Music was a central part of his life from as long as he can remember and it became a lifetime commitment very early on: “I was in the third grade, and there was a talent show where I played a boogie-woogie piece that my dad had written for me,” he recalls. “It was the first time that I played for an audience where I felt that people were really moved by something that I had just played. I remember thinking, ‘Yep, this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.’”
Clayton attended the L.A. County High School for the Arts and then enrolled at the USC Thornton School of Music. In the midst of his third year at USC, he temporarily relocated to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music. “I knew I was eventually going to move to New York,” he says, “so I thought it would be a good idea to experience the city for a year as a student.” After returning to L.A. for a year and a half to finish his degree, he moved back to New York permanently.
In 2006, Gerald received the second place prize in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition. Around that time, he was introduced to trumpeter Roy Hargrove when they were both featured artists at a performance of the Henry Mancini Orchestra. “We were backstage during one of the rehearsals, and we started playing some duets,” recalls Clayton. “After that I would see him from time to time in New York, and he would say, ‘Great that you’re in New York now. I’ll call you.’ That was how things started.”
The association resulted in three years of extensive touring with Hargrove between 2006 and 2009, and appearances on Hargrove’s recordings, Earfood (2008) and Emergence (2009). Gerald also appeared on recordings by several other artists, such as Diana Krall, Ambrose Akinmusire, Kendrick Scott, Melissa Morgan, Terell Stafford & Dick Oatts, and more recently Michael Rodriguez, Dayna Stephens, Terri Lyne Carrington, and the Clayton Brothers Quintet, led by his father and his uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton. Gerald continues to perform regularly with the Clayton Brothers.
In 2009, he released Two Shade, his debut album as a leader, with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown. Sanders and Brown have remained with him for his two subsequent records. It was from this recording that Gerald received a 2010 Grammy nomination in the category of ‘Best Improvised Jazz Solo’ for his rendition of Cole Porter’s “All of You.”
In 2011, Gerald received a second Grammy nomination, this time for ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Composition’, for his piece “Battle Circle” featured on the Clayton Brothers recording, The New Song and Dance.
The same year, Clayton released his second album, Bond: The Paris Sessions. While the expectations may have been high in the aftermath of the acclaimed debut album, Clayton recalls the album coming together organically and with a minimum of stress. “You hear people talk about the curse of the sophomore album, but recording that album – and the whole process leading up to it – was very natural for us as a trio. We’d been touring a great deal at the time and spending a lot of time together, so going into the studio and catching that vibe was completely natural.” Bond received a Grammy nomination, Gerald’s third, in 2012 for ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Album’.
Life Forum, set for release in April 2013, “might be the most ambitious album yet,” states Clayton. “Conceptualizing the music for a group of eight musicians was a new experience for me, and it required more preparation than I was accustomed to. With the addition of lyrics to three of the tunes, as well as some other post-production work, this project has been a departure from my previous two. I’m doing more writing now than I’ve ever done before, and working with Ben Wendel, who produced the record, was very helpful. I really admire his playing and his writing. He and I got together prior to the sessions to talk about the music and map out what I needed to do to get it recorded. In that sense, it was more demanding than the previous records.”
“What comes after Life Forum is anyone’s guess,” says Clayton, who does not want to be defined by any one musical tradition: “I prefer to ignore the boxes, the genre distinctions,” he says. ”I focus on creating honest musical expressions and collaborating with people whose ideas resonate with my own.”
The drumming of Kendrick A.D. Scott has been called imaginative, lyrical and versatile and can be heard alongside many of Jazz music’s contemporary greats. Scott, who was born on July 8, 1980 in Houston, Texas, grew within a musical family that guided his desire to become a musician at an early age. When he was six years old his parents purchased his first drum pad and got him drum lessons, and within two years his talents earned him a full drum set. During junior high school he cultivated his craft in church and at school where he was in the marching and concert band.
Scott attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where his talents were refined in the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Band. His early influences included Eric Harland, Tony Williams, Papa Jo Jones, Chris Dave and Max Roach.
His high school career culminated with many awards, the most notable being various student awards given by Downbeat Magazine and The Clifford Brown / Stan Getz award, given by the International Association of Jazz Educators and The National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts.
In 1998 Kendrick was awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. At Berklee he majored in Music Education and toured nationally and internationally with various artists. In 2003, Scott joined The Crusaders and The Terence Blanchard Group. He has shared the stage with Gary Burton, Kenny Garrett, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Stefon Harris, Diane Reeves, David Sanborn, Mark Turner, and many other artists. In 2005, Terence Blanchard’s record “Flow” received two Grammy® Nominations for Best Instrumental Jazz Album and another for Best Instrumental Solo for Herbie Hancock’s solo on Scott’s composition “The Source”.
Scott resides in New York and is developing his reputation as a performer, composer, teacher and student of music while working on the completion of his first solo project (Kendrick Scott Oracle) due out in 2006. Scott proudly sponsors Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Danmar Percussion, Puresound Percussion and Vater Drumsticks.
Joe Sanders has made a name for himself through his versatility, dedication, and steady pulse. He is without doubt, one of the most sought-after young bass players of his generation. He has played, recorded, and toured with many great musicians, including but not limited to; Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Dave Brubeck, Mulgrew Miller, Geri Allen, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Karriem Riggins, Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, Gerald Clayton (whose album Two-Shade was nominated for a 2010 Grammy®, featuring Sanders), Geoffery Kezzer, Lionel Loueke, Aaron Parks, Chris Potter, Ambrose Akinmusire, Christian Scott, and Taylor Eigsti.
Sanders has evolved as a musician first as a student in the finest music programs and currently on the bandstand. He has had many mentors and teachers who have taught him along the way. His first teacher Catherine McGinn is a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and guided Sanders throughout middle school and high school, though these were strictly classical lessons this gave him the tools and discipline he would need in the future. In the Fall of 2002, he attended the Dave Brubeck Institute to study under the tutelage of Christian McBride, where he was introduced to master the essentials needed to become an exceptional bass player. After two years with McBride and the many other jazz masters who passed through the Institute, Sanders felt ready to head to New York and put into practice his knowledge and passion.
As gigs and jam sessions rolled, Sanders’ name was heard more widely in the city. An opportunity came knocking at his door. A year into being a New Yorker, Sanders was on his way to Los Angeles to attend the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute, under Artistic Director, Terence Blanchard. While at the Monk Institute, Sanders honed his skills even further and embraced new musical concepts brought on by Blanchard. He was also challenged by others who were brought into the Monk Institute to share their concepts such as; Jason Moran, Benny Golson, Wynton Marsalis, Stephon Harris, and Lewis Nash, to name a few. During this time, Sanders took one-on-one lessons from exceptional bassists who have always inspired him to keep moving forward, they included John Clayton, Bob Hurst, Ron Carter, and Charlie Haden. Upon graduation from the Thelonious Monk Institute Sanders returned to New York City.
Recently, he placed 2nd in the finals of both the International Society of Bassists Jazz Bass Competition and the Thelonious Monk Institute’s International Jazz Bass Competition. Currently he leads his own band Joe Sanders’ Infinity in jazz clubs throughout New York City, and tours extensively in Europe and the States with Gerald Clayton Trio. “I am fortunate to have found my calling,” says Sanders. “I hope to reach people’s hearts and make a difference in their life through the spirit of music.”
“In a generation of technical, and resourceful, wunderkinds, Clayton, 24, stands out for his nuanced touch, precise articulation and the way he constructs a narrative for his solos.”
— DownBeat Magazine
” . . . possesses virtues rare for a musician in his 20s, like taste, balance, elegance, and understatement.”
$15 (includes admission to Berklee "Next Generation Jazz Ensemble")
|BLU Jazz+ was named one of the "Best Jazz Venues in the World" by DownBeat Magazine (2016, 2017, 2018)|
|Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.|