"Plays and Sings" shows Joe Gransden’s talent and explores his musical creativity. Listen as Joe paints. He uses his playing, singing, writing, arranging as his colors. His ability to mix it up is shown by his collaborations with the varied styles of his special guests. Joe incorporates Eric Alexander’s arrangements adding depth and romance to his ballads. He "throws down" in a musical bebop boxing match with fellow Atlanta trumpeter Russell Gunn on "DJ." Rene’ Marie helps create the magic on "Let’s Take a Chance Together." Listen for the fun captured here. You may be inspired to "take a chance" as well. Who says jazz is not comfort food?
Clint Eastwood with whom Joe has a strong musical friendship lends his composition "Why Should I Care?" Joe’s Vocals and Harmon-muted trumpet breathe just the right amount of life in this track to stay true to the title. Grammy winner Earl Klugh shows his skills with a fantastically understated accompaniment.
Next, a little about Joe’s rock-solid bandmates. Neal Starkey’s bass lines provide the just the right foundation. He is always at the right place at the right time. Clay Hulet’s drumming is solid and playful. He is a driving player who is in control no matter the style or the tempo. He listens, and makes use of the space provided. This kind of playing is hard to make sound easy. Well done Clay. Kevin Bales and Kenny Banks bring amazing talent and taste to each tune on keyboards. Both are "smoking" and masterfully supportive depending on what the music calls for. They provide playing that gives the soloist room to create in the moment.
Jerry Weldon's saxophone playing is a total "WOW." He is totally at ease with each tune. Jerry musically toys with each tune playing his own cat and mouse game. He knows exactly what he is doing and does it very well.
With "Sings and Plays" Joe fills the page and provides the listener a variety of musical styles. We get well-known standards, storytelling ballads, and straight-ahead swinging bebop and something new with several originals
Joe Gransden’s voice and horn sounds have a unique identity. Joe is influenced by those before him, but the comparisons now fall short. Joe has found his groove and he is a joy to be with musically. It is rare today to find an entertainer that inspires the listener dress up, get up, and dance the night away. Joe draws the listener to his/her feet. Joe calls out the romantic spirit in everyone within earshot.
Whatever Joe’s great-great grandmother’s spoon "put in the pot" it turned out a great musician, performer and entertainment. Joe Gransden has a winner’s attitude toward life. He engages with his interested listeners and appreciates the response he gets from the audience.
On a personal note, during a recent weekend getaway with my family, we caught a set of Joe with his quartet at the Ritz Carlton Lodge at Lake Oconee, GA. My eight year old daughter, Payton, worked up her courage to request "I Thought About You" one of her favorite jazz songs. Not only did Joe perform the song, he sang the lyrics directly to and for her. Joe made an impression on Payton and (on her dad) that will not soon be forgotten.
Thank you, Joe for sharing your art. You are special.
Bruce Pulver, March 2006