What took me by surprise about pianist and composer Gerald Clayton is his ability to play what he thinks, and almost all of the musicians fall in line instantly. That’s what I witnessed lately at his performance recently at The Jazz Gallery in New York City in support of his latest Emarcy Records release “Bond: The Paris Sessions.” His first two recordings as a leader were recorded with his trio, but this set was the nucleus of a new quintet that featured Dayna Stephens, Chris Dingman, Marcus Gilmore, and Joe Sanders.
The 26-year-old pianist has been a brainstorm of both classical and jazz knowledge since the age of two. Born in the Netherlands, but raised in Los Angeles, young Gerald was brought up in the musical household that included his father, bassist and composer John Clayton, and his uncle, saxophonist, Jeff Clayton. Music was destined to be in has blood. Gerald began taking classical piano when he was in his pre-teens. For eleven years he was heavily involved with the rigorous study under the tutelage of instructor Linda Buck.
It was his love for jazz that lead him to study at the USC Thornton School of Music earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies. He was blessed to study jazz under Kenny Barron, Shelly Berg, and Billy Childs.
Gerald’s debut disc “Two Shade” was hailed as a marvel for the young 25-year-old’s debut. In addition to him being a leader, he also continued to back The Clayton Brothers, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and vocalist Diana Krall.
Gerald is the next generation of jazz musicians who’s vision is beyond playing the piano. His writing is fresh and music forward similar to the early works of pianists Chick Corea and Andrew Hill. As a pianist, he’s got a humble and quiet fire like the elder statesman of jazz like Oscar Peterson, Kenny Barron, and Monty Alexander.
“Bond: The Paris Sessions” includes many of his own originals as well as two standards. Gerald is about to go on tour in support of the new disc. For upcoming tour dates or to order his latest disc, please visit him on the web at geraldclayton.com
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