‘Delicioso’ by pianist Tom Grant is his twenty fourth album release. In fact ever since 1976, and his recording debut with ‘Mystified’, he has been a standard bearer for the genre of music that evolved into smooth jazz. This latest project bears testament to the fact that, much like good wine, he is getting better with age and when recently I talked to him from his studio in the Pacific north west I was eager to discover what inspires him to remain totally connected with the creative process.
"I get my ideas from many places" he explained. "Once I have them the process by which those ideas become tunes can vary. For instance I took my time with ‘Delicioso’. Probably twelve months or so during which I worked then reworked many of the tracks until I had exactly what I wanted."
I told Tom that in terms of favorites I had taken a particular liking to ‘Luxuriam’ and he confirmed that he was also pleased with it. "I also have a thing for ‘Breathing In The Love’ he added. "That whole new age type of a vibe appeals to me a lot."
I was intrigued as to the thinking behind the selection of ‘Cute New Car’ as the first single to be serviced to radio. "That whole song has an interesting story" Tom said. "I have this colleague, Amy Kimble, and she bought herself a new car. It was a Mini Cooper in fact and she gave me the chance to go for a drive in it. It all flowed from there. The rhythm and the melody are, to me, evocative of that fun car ride. Sometimes its things like that which provides inspiration to make music."
Going back to ‘Luxuriam’ I commented on how the piece was blessed with excellent trumpet from Paul Mazzio. Tom confirmed that Mazzio was a musical associate from his local area in Portland OR. "That’s how I tend to work" he told me. "I have this network of friends that I can call upon. For me that is a good approach." This in turn led me to mention a previous collaboration with which Tom had been involved. I was referring to his work with Art Porter on his posthumously released CD ‘For Arts Sake’. Of course Art was tragically killed in a boating accident in 1996 and Tom recalled that his involvement had come about when they were both signed to Verve Forecast. "We also did a Christmas song together" he remembered.
It hadn’t escaped my notice that for his previous six projects Tom had been an independent artist. I wondered what, for him, the main differences of this were when compared to being signed to a label. "It’s a trade off" he reasoned. "I don’t have to fit a format or have an A & R guy tell me how the music should sound but then again I don’t have the ready made connections that being with a recording company can provide. Of course I also don’t have the budget that goes with it. That said, I am currently very comfortable with my playing and where it is taking me."
Tucked away on the inside cover of ‘Delicioso’ is a picture of Tom with a group of English students at Merlo Station High School in Beaverton, OR. I was curious to know why it was there. "Its something I enjoy doing" Tom said, "Just a chat with the kids about what it means to be a professional musician. I’m about to do another one" he explained "up in Alaska near Dutch Harbor where I will be performing and conducting a workshop on songwriting for a non profit organization".
Maybe it was that message of sharing and giving back, that altruistic thread, which revealed, twenty four albums on, the place at which Tom Grant has arrived. "I’m feeling very optimistic," he stated, "Stronger than ever in fact. I am feeling good about my music and already thinking about the next venture. Maybe I might look at collaborating with a producer. It’s nice to have choices."
That Tom is looking to extend a streak that over the years has proved to be both prolific and terrific must, for his fans everywhere, be very good news indeed.