Lafayette Gilchrist arrives from saxophonist David Murray's band, where he's occupied the piano chair in both Murray's Quartet and Octet since joining in April 2000. In four quick years, Gilchrist has gone from scuffling as a young jazz pianist on the local Baltimore circuit to sharing stages with the likes of Hamiet Bluiett, Fontella Bass, Craig Harris, Hamid Drake and Rasul Saddik. While Gilchrist's battle for greater recognition keeps him hungry, if the past serves as any indicator, he's well on his way, as previous members of Murray's bands include the late Wilbur Morris, Olu Dara, and Henry Threadgill.
In Baltimore, Lafayette Gilchrist's reputation proceeds him. His hard working band, dubbed The New Volcanoes, features a propulsive rhythm section, and a dynamic horn line, counted on to raise the roof each and every night. Crowds gather for his performances at venues such as The New Haven and The 14 Carat Cabaret, but his audience is not limited to jazz heads. At clubs better known for presenting rock and punk, such as The Otto Bar and The Funk Box, Gilchrist has become a favorite, blurring the lines that divide genres.
On his debut album, The Music According To Lafayette Gilchrist, it's clear from the set opener "Assume The Position" that there's a greater vision at work. As the album's title relates, Gilchrist has his own ideas not quite like anything that's come before. There's a thump and swagger to songs like "The Return of Jess Grew" and "Baltimore's Belly," owing as much to Grand Master Flash and Afrika Bambaataa, as they do to Gilchrist's heroes like Sun Ra, and Thelonious Monk. It's loud, powerful and uncompromising music, swelling at the seams with bursting, syncopated horns, but contained by a steady funk bottom. Gilchrist serves as the go-between, essentially splashing colors of piano across the canvas, dashing sophisticated piano runs between horn lines, and comping big block chords of inventive, dark beauty.
In Lafayette Gilchrist's own words: "This is the sound of my town, where I come from. It's my own personal imagination and inspiration drawing from the environment that I live and grew up in. I'm a child of Hip-Hop, and I knew the music of every one of those D.C. go-go bands. And that's the foundation I build upon. When I sit down behind the boards, the stakes are high. It can never be anything less than honestly in your face and real. You'll know the game is on."
THE MUSIC ACCORDING TO LAFAYETTE GILCHRIST is available June 29th on HYENA
Upcoming on HYENA
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