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Upper Road by Clay Giberson

Keyboardist Clay Giberson is joined here by a first-rate core group of musicians in woodwinds player Hans Teuber, guitarist Dan Balmer, bassist Jeff Leonard and drummer Carlton Jackson, with guests throughout. Recorded January 2001 in Portland, Oregon, this all original 11-cut program features Giberson’s work on piano, Rhodes electric piano, Wurlitzer EP, synthesizer and loops, though the overall effect remains organic.

Hans Teuber is especially intriguing. His soprano on "Rivers to Cross" is reminiscent of John Klemmer, while the alto he brings to "Biscayne Bay" is light, airy and, in tandem with trumpeter Matt Hilgenberg, captivating. On the closing reprise to "Northern Lights," he brings bass clarinet to the session to stunning effect.

On the opening "The Willing," electronics are bolstered by percussion, setting up the dichotomy that works so well throughout the recording. On "Upper Road," the band reminds at times of Weather Report, though not conspicuously so. Giberson’s keys lay a cloud for Teuber’s lilting and muscular flute. With Sanni Orasmaa on vocals, "For The Time Coming" has a Brazilian feel. By contrasts, "Homegrown" has a semi-funky backbeat, due largely to the kicks provided by drummer Robert Di Pietro.

On "Brooklyn Heights," Giberson is joined by Di Pietro again, along with bassist Forrest Giberson. With Teuber’s superb soprano, this has the potential for lite jazz radio play, though it has the substance of many of the crossover jazz acts of the 70s and 80s. This is true of much of the disc. It appeals on a variety of levels. Mostly, it is the work of supremely talented musicians. Very enjoyable.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Clay Giberson
  • CD Title: Upper Road
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: OriginArts
  • Rating: Three Stars
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