Pianist Greg Jasperse takes a giant step forward with his first ever commercial release entitled ‘Tournesol’ for the Tournesol Music Label. This CD by most standards can best be described as a cornucopia of jazz styles that have been augmented by varying degrees of originality and purpose. Although Greg’s conceptualized intent may have been to record a smooth jazz album, other impressionable components are included as well. In my mind, there are ever-evolving elements of Celtic, classical, fusion and pop influences within the scope of Jasperse’s effort, all of which are geared towards a picturesque view of his originality. To say that ‘Tournesol’ is a smooth jazz CD does not adequately described what has been conveyed within the overall scheme of versatility, the release is much deeper than a mere label of accommodation. Greg Jasperse has taken his listeners down a combined path of everything he has done during the course of his career to make this CD happen.
To better understand the dynamics surrounding ‘Tournesol,’ you must first examine the career of the artist involved in the process of making it happen. Greg Jasperse is not just another pianist trying to make a CD, his track record of accomplishments runs the gamut of a variety of diverse activities. As an arranger, composer, conductor and educator, Greg has worn many hats during his multi-faceted career. He has conducted the British Columbia, Canada, Colorado and Illinois Honors Vocal Jazz Choirs and has written for numerous choirs in the United States and Canada. As an educator, he has taught at various choir camps as well, while also serving as a clinician and guest artist at various jazz festivals. Even in the midst of everything he has done professionally as an educator, Greg has found the necessary time to draw upon his own creative flow of activity and record ‘Tournesol.’ As a medium of exchange, this CD is pale in comparison to what this artist has done professionally.
Although Greg Jasperse’s debut release is a milestone of sorts, the recording has too many variances to say the CD is a smooth jazz influence. Greg moves in the right direction with his choice of sidemen, which includes Greg Geissman, Randy Crenshaw, Gary Meek, Michael Shapiro and Jerry Watts, all of whom also have a wide and varied career as well. In addition, Jasperse also utilizes a number of unconventional instruments such as the cello, oboe and violin to make this CD happen, which lends credence to the idea of this is not a jazz CD. Because Greg has a multitude of musical activities surrounding his career, it seems that he has attempted to incorporate them into ‘Tournesol,’ which can be misleading. Case in point, the use of vocals on "Child" does not lend to jazz at all, but it does have simplicity as a sweet melodic ballad. Other tracks such as "Arbor Drive," "Uncle John" and "Garden Waltz" come full-circle in providing a platform for Greg Jasperse to display his finely-tuned talents, but not necessarily as a jazz artist. In retrospect this recording can be placed in a variety of categories that would include instrumental pop, new age and ambient jazz.‘Tournesol’ and Greg Jasperse are a matched set of musical creativity. Greg’s music ebbs and flows across the dynamics of a variety of influences. When listening to this CD, I was struck by Greg’s sense of originality and purpose. Through thirteen tracks, he explores all aspects of his experiences as an artist, composer and educator. Musically speaking, the recording is soothing to the ear and very entertaining in approach.