[JPL] Conversation with jazz pianist Joe Gilman

Dick Crockett bopndick at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 19 23:56:42 EDT 2004

Conversation with jazz pianist, Joe Gilman

 Dick Crockett

 Joe Gilman talks about  recent events in his career
as a jazz pianist, educator and his new CD,  TIME
AGAIN: BRUBECK  REVISITED, Volume 1 on Sunnyside 
Records.  Recently, Mr. Gilman won first prize in the
2004 Great American Jazz Piano Competition in
Jacksonville Florida.

DC:    “Time Out” in 1959 is considered a Dave Brubeck
Quartet classic recording on Columbia Records.
In the sixties,  “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo A La
Turk” were  featured on jazz radio stations and  juke
boxes across the country  and are still endeared  by 
many  jazz fans to this day.   
How did you get involved with Dave Brubeck’s music?”  

JG:   “I play with a band  called the Capital Jazz
Project in Sacramento.  We performed a thematic
concert on   Mr. Brubeck’s music. Coincidently, The
Brubeck Institute was being established  and the
director, J. B. Dyas  attended the show and enjoyed
the performance. He invited C.J.P to repeat the
performance at the Brubeck festival in the spring of
2002.   He then asked me to play and teach at the
Brubeck colony to a group of seventeen outstanding 
high school sophomore and junior musicians from all
over the country .   I was then asked to do a
presentation to the Brubeck fellows at the Institute. 
The Institute  chooses  five to seven talented, 
nineteen -twenty year old musicians to perform and 
learn together on a full ride scholarship for one to
two years. 
I spent a week teaching them  Brubeck’s  music.   
Mr. Brubeck  sent me a box of all his published music.
Reading though the tunes, I remembered how much  I
enjoyed the  familiar songs,  and  read some I was
unfamiliar with;  solo work , some  classical and
other jazz quartet music. 
I was very impressed with two nineteen year old
students at the Institute,  bass player Joe Sanders
and drummer, Justin Brown.
As we began to play the music, I realized because of
the different generations, Dave from me , and me from 
Joe and Justin, that this trio created a different

DC : “How  do you mean?”

JG:    “It’s  timeless, yet  refreshing and open for
many interpretations, so I wrote the arrangements with
that idea in mind.”

DC: “For the album?”

JG:  “In May 2003, we went into the studio and
recorded 17 tracks in 8 hours; multiple takes with
three solo piano tunes.”

DC: “ You had it in the ‘can,’ ready to go?!” 

JG:   “With the help of Glenn Ito and Bud Spangler
from the Bay area , we shopped various labels. 
Francois Zalacain of Sunnyside Records liked what he
heard and released Volume 1 in March 2004. “

DC: “ More to come?”

JG: “Volume Two with “Take Five” will be released in

DC: “You sound like a ‘ Glenn Gould’ in your solo
performance of  “In Your Own Sweet Way.”

JG: “ Thanks. Nice compliment. ”

DC: “ I’m probably trying to say is you have great
command and technique. You also  have an extensive

JG:  I studied classical music at Sacramento State
University. Graduated Bachelors of music from Indiana
University,  Masters in jazz and contemporary media
from Eastman School of Music-Rochester and a Doctorate
in education from University of  Sarasota.”

DC:  “ Where are you from originally?”

JG:   “Carmichael.”

DC:  “Carmichael, California?”

JG: “I live in the same house I grew up in.”

DC: “The only person I know,  who lives in same house
is  Chicago’s  octogenarian  saxophonist Von Freeman, 
who still ‘blows’ his tail off. I wonder if that
indicates a long productive life?

JG: “ I continue to  find ways to challenge myself and
to grow as a musician, so I can be an inspiration to
my students.”

DC  You’ve worked as a sideman for some great  jazz
musicians over the years?”

JG: “I’m a free lance musician and have had the
opportunity to play  with Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson
 and Joe Henderson  in San Francisco.”

DC: “Joe Henderson ‘s one of my favorites. We attended
the same school, Wayne State University in Detroit.”

JG: “I was a struggling musician at the time of my
recording with Joe, thinking about studying  law at
Hastings in San Francisco.  However, I wanted to
record a CD with some of my favorite musicians and
through my  college roommate,(Indiana, 1982-85) bass
player Robert Hurst. I  contacted Joe Henderson and he
agreed to do the project.   12 years ago, we recorded
a CD called “Treasure Chest” with Joe Henderson,  Jeff
‘Tain’ Watts and Robert Hurst.”

DC: “What label?”

JG: “Timeless.”

DC:   “Your performance on ”Blue Rondo A La Turk” is
impressive and different on the TIME AGAIN CD, is this
an example of the timeless quality of this music?”

JG: “ Yes, most definitely.”

DC:   “I was intrigued by your arrangement of
“Recuerdo.”  What’s the time signature?”

JG:  “It’s in three...six-four or three-four.  We’re
repeating that ostinato over and over again. Justin
then super imposes all kinds of rhythmic patterns on
top of it.”

DC:  “Sounds like Justin Brown is performing  a
marching beat.”

JG:  “It’s called a street beat. Many jazz musicians
stay only with ballads, different tempos of swing and
Latin.  So we thought , let’s try it in fives, with
brushes or in different grooves, like in  Ahmad
Jamal’s, ‘Poinciana.’  I said  to Justin,  play some
grooves. Be as creative as you want. Don’t think of a
song as a meter, do anything you want. And I proceeded
to play over the top of them.  Instead of the melody
and chords dictating, we started from the rhythmic
aspect, went backwards to find the tune, as if to ask,
what creative things can we do with the arrangement,
the harmony, the beat and the meter.”

DC:  “What about  “Love And Anger, ” “Tender Woman?”
JG:   “They were solo piano pieces,  we interpreted as
a trio.”

DC:   “And  Darius?”

JG:  “The intro  was my own reharmonization, like
Alexander Scriabin.   When  we get into the ensemble
part , that’s Brubeck’s conception.”

DC:   “Joe Sanders and Justin Brown are very young and
talented, reminds me of a young Tony Williams and the
Miles  Davis Quintet in the sixties.”

JG: “They just turned twenty years old.  Justin has
been playing drums,  since he was three years old.  
They’re both moving  to New York City. Justin Brown
has been accepted at  Julliard.  Joe Sanders will
attend  The Manhattan School Of Music.  There’s always
a possibility of playing together in the future.”

DC:   “You’re a college professor at American River
College. What are you currently teaching in your

JG:   “Main bulk of my load is traditional music
theory, starting with treble clef , all the way to
Bartok set theory and Schoenberg twelve tone rows, 
from the 1600's to the present.   I also teach jazz
improvisation.   And at the Brubeck Institute, I teach
jazz improvisation,  as well. “

DC:   “ Mr Gilman, congratulations on your full inner
life and your inspiration to next generation of jazz
musicians, your recent success with winning the 2004
Great American Jazz Piano Competition and your  new CD
the most exciting  new interpretation of Brubeck’s
music in over forty years.

JG:   “Thank you.”

available on Sunnyside Records
For  more information, E mail Joe Gilman at
joe at joegilman.com

Dick Crockett
“The Voice” 88.7fm
4623 T Street, Suite A
Sacramento, Ca.   95819-4743

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