View So Tender: Wonder Revisited, Vol. 2
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I somehow missed the boat on Stevie Wonder back in his day. The explanation? Rock snobbery. Stevie Wonder did not sound like Black Sabbath and Bachman Turner Overdrive. It seems almost impossible that my youthful ears would not have enjoyed the shifting chord sequences and winding melodies that spill out of "Contusion," but I never gave it a chance. Lucky for us that pianist Joe Gilman has never been so narrow-minded. Gilman's swift runs linking the chords together bring out the hidden charms latent in Wonder's original construct. The trio blisters through Stevie's musical contours with an infectious enthusiasm that makes me Wonder how I could have ever been so obstinate.
Reviewer: Mary Zaleski
Volume 31/Number 282
JOE GILMAN TRIO/View So Tender-Wonder Revisited V. 2: If the original
Ramsey Lewis Trio had stayed together to see Stevie Wonder's 70s heyday,
you can almost imagine their record company telling them to sit down and
make a record that probably would have sounded just like this. Powered
by a delightfully swinging, classy jazz piano trio, this crew has their
eye on the ball, their finger on the pulse and has a knack for merging
two modes that reach back 40 years making it all sound right in the moment.
A Stevie Wonder tribute might not be the hippest idea floating around
right now but this set makes you glad someone thought of it. Check it
Dick Metcalf, aka Rotcod Zzaj
The Joe Gilman Trio - VIEW SO TENDER- WONDER REVISITED, Vol. 2: If you hadn't guessed by now, this CD explores the very jazz-friendly music of Stevie Wonder... it's odd to hear a trio doing this, when I'm so used to Wonder's music with far more instrumentation, but Gilman's keyboards, bass by Joe Sanders & drums from Justin Brown, reinterpret Wonder's tunes to the point that you'll wonder why Stevie didn't do them this way in the first place. Of course, we all know the answer... "non-jazzheads" wouldn't have comprehended it, & sales would have been low... what Joe's fantastic creativity & talent does prove, however, is that Mr. Wonder was/is a master composer! If it's "move" you want, you'll find my favorite track, "Another Star" to your liking... if, on the other hand, you want something that sounds more "Wonder-ous", you'll probably pick "Knocks Me off My Feet". All 10 tracks pass on the sense of joy that Stevie has always had in his music, though, so it's an album well worth having & certainly merits our HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. Get more information at www.joegilman.com/ or watch Joe & the trio playing SIR DUKE (YOUTUBE).
~ Rotcod Zzaj
View So Tender: Wonder Revisited (Capri) is the second volume that pianist Joe Gilman and his trio have devoted to exploring the music of Stevie Wonder. While bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown faithfully deliver and embellish the textures and structures of pieces like "Knocks Me Off My Feet," "Bird of Beauty," "Don't Know Why I Love You" and "Cryin' Through The Night," Gilman delivers a series of spiraling, expressive solos that embrace the original Wonder melodies before heading off into alternative, intriguing directions.
These pieces are long enough (all between five and seven minutes) for the trio to both fully spotlight Wonder's music and put their own mark on each number. Hopefully Gilman and company will issue a third release in the series, because they show that Wonder's compositions certainly present ample challenges for 21st century improvisers.
By: Ron Wynn, firstname.lastname@example.org
CD Title: View So Tender: Wonder Revisited, Volume Two
The star-crossed harmonies in "Knocks Me Off My Feet" are
malleable as the bopping bass notes are clear and concise, shooting straight
arrows in the melodic lines, while the piano keys dazzle and prance happily.
The harmonies create lively jamborees through "Cryin' Through the
Night" and "Whereabouts," while trailing down to a slowly
fluid, lounging drift along "You and I." The avant cuts of "Contusion"
have a springy pounce as the rhythm section zooms through the entangling
vines of piano keys. The breezy gusts and trumped up overtones of "Bird
of Beauty" have a Latin zest and tightly rung flashing keys that
spice up the tune. The perched piano keys in "Easy Goin' Evenin'"
are eloquent and beautifully finessed, though Gilman picks up speed in
"Another Star" producing a snappy tempo and herds of furling
spins that feel like they are moving over hot-coals. The trio displays
effective diplomacy in the leisurely gait of "Don't Know Why I Love
You," and the soothing lines of "As If You Read My Mind,"
shows their talent for acquiescing to each other's parts.
The trio's arrangements are miles away from the original version of these songs made by Stevie Wonder, but they show that applying jazz-inspired treatments to pop tunes produces invigorating emulsions, which make the newly-formed melodies sonically appealing and aurally comfortable. Additionally, the trio has made two records dedicated to the music of Dave Brubeck, which applied classic jazz tones to edgy, experimental material. Gilman has been an educator and a live performer who has played with the likes of Bobby Hutcherson, Chris Botti, and many others. He also plays on occasion with the Sacramento-area group Capital Jazz Project. Gilman seems to be on a mission to show jazz music's history through the music of his present CDs. He never disconnects himself from the past, but he never completely lives in its nostalgia.
Picks for September 2008
THE JOE GILMAN TRIO VIEW SO TENDER: WONDER REVISITED Capri Records
This is Volume Two, a jazz modernist view of the music of Stevie Wonder by the Joe Gilman trio. With a bright and talented rhythm section of Joe Sanders, bass and Justin Brown, drums, who Joe Gilman nurtured at The Brubeck Institute at Pacific University and who are now forging their own careers in New York City. "View So Tender" is so important a view in all their careers.
Dr Joe Gilman is a full time professor of music, American River College in Sacramento and winner of the 2004 Great American Jazz Piano competition in Jacksonville Florida.
Gilman also teaches jazz improvisation and that's why this cd is such a wonder, if you'll excuse the expression. Most important, Gilman knows the value in the adaptability of pop to modern jazz and Stevie Wonder's music is very adaptable. And you'll know in the trio's interpretation of the funky, bright "Cryin' Through The Night," the memorable ballad, "You And I, "Contusion," the almost Gershwin, "Bird Of Beauty" the very swinging up tempo, "Another Star," a version that Oscar Peterson would enjoy. Gilman creates a regal quality with his dynamic almost classical interpretation of "Don't Know Why I Love You." "As if You Read My Mind" has a subtle distinctive blue line to it. Joe Gilman is a well schooled jazz musician whose paid dues over the years and we in Sacramento as the rest of you on the line are able able to experience his abilities through his recent cd's on Brubeck and Steve Wonder. He's been very influential to many young student musicians at American River College and the Brubeck Institute.
You'll note his enthusiastic and exceptional interpretation of Stevie Wonders prolific music catalog, in Wonder Revisited, Volume Two as well.
Joe Gilman - Wonder Revisited 3/4
O's Notes: Pianist Joe Gilman teams up with Joe Sanders (b) and Justin Brown (d) to tackle some of the genius of Stevie Wonder. Joe's arrangements are very jazzy while retaining Stevie's recipes and adding some excellent improvisation. That creativity comes from all three musicians especially on "Cryin' Through The Night". We also liked "Whereabouts". We wish he'd done more of our favorite Wonder hits but Stevie has so many hits, satisfying everyone will always be a challenge. The approach is solid and execution flawless. Gilman succeeds in marrying R&B with traditional jazz in a way that appeals to a wide audience.
Four stars from the Skanner which circulates in Portland and Seattle.
"VIEW SO TENDER: WONDER REVISITED"
Gillman applies his creative juices to a jazz interpretation of some of Stevie Wonder's pop library. It's amazing how well they fit in the jazz genre. Gilman is backed by young musicians, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown.
Many jazz fans are not likely to remember Wonder's tunes as he performed them but they should recognize Gilman's chops and those of Sanders, his bassist. Some of the tunes include "Cryin' Through The Night," "Don't Know Why I Love You," "You and I," "Bird of Beauty," and more.
Joe Gilman is a young and experienced jazz pianist whose brilliance is unquestioned, and whose taste level is refined within the modern mainstream progressive aesthetic. While never a chart topper of critic's darling, he in fact should be, based on his sheer talent and ability to craft new shapes and sounds out of established pop or jazz material. This second volume of modifications on the music of Stevie Wonder continues Gilman's path of self-discovery and intrigue, turning 14K tunes into solid gold. What distinguishes these alterations is their utter departure from the original melodies, as Gilman makes them his own in no uncertain terms. The two most famous tunes are "You & I" and "Another Star," the former a relatively recognizable deeply romantic ballad, and the latter an unexpected fleet and dynamic hard bop version à la McCoy Tyner. Gilman loves to employ tricky meter switch-ups, in tiptoe time from 7/8 to 5/4 on "Whereabouts," shifting complex and modern 5/4 to simplified and breezy 6/8 during "Knocks Me Off My Feet," and doling out large portions of free time, quirky and playful chunks of light and heavy rhythm changes on the hard bop based "Contusion." Gilman uses bouncy, quaint, and swinging chords opposite the response of bassist Joe Sanders on "Cryin' Through the Night," employs a similar reverberation in reverent, restrained, and heavier chord definitions or contours during "Easy Goin' Evening," and straightens the course during a samba infused "Bird of Beauty." Drummer Justin Brown is up to the task on all of these adaptations, steadily navigating the cleverest rhythms during the long spirit song "Don't Know Why I Love You," and establishing a contemporary loping bluesy pace à la Vernell Fournier of Ahmad Jamal's bands for "As If You Read My Mind." This is a solid effort that proudly stands alongside the first volume of Gilman's previous tribute to Motown's pop icon, as well as the pianist's 2003 tribute to Dave Brubeck. It is also one of the better jazz recordings of 2008, well worth your while whether you are a piano fan, neo-bop lover, or enjoy your pop music with an energized, direct, straight-ahead infusion.
~ Michael G. Nastos
The Joe Gilman Trio - View So Tender: Wonder Revisited, Vol. Two - Capri
74086-2, 63:19 ****
The Joe Gilman Trio is back for more. View So Tender: Wonder Revisited, Volume Two is the second chapter in Gilman's look at Stevie Wonder's music. Like the first volume this is more than just a tribute, it's a re-interpretation of a classic songwriter's output. Like Gilman's previous volume, also recorded in 2004 at the same time as these titles, this collection is not a light jazz rendition of pop tunes, like many releases that combine jazz with pop music. Gilman, drummer Justin Brown and bassist Joe Sanders don't simply recreate well known hits in an instrumental setting. Quite the opposite: View So Tender presents a consistently engaging traditional jazz trio climate with an emphasis on improvisation and creativity.
Casual Wonder fans probably won't recognize most of the song titles that Gilman and company use as a springboard for their jazz jaunts. Although the numbers come from the celebrated Wonder discography of the '70s and '80s, these were not top radio singles and in some cases were not memorable album cuts. But Gilman's main focus was not offering Wonder's most famous compositions, but finding and utilizing strong melodies, dynamic harmonies, and content adaptable to soloing and spontaneous communication.
Throughout the hour-long presentation The Joe Gilman Trio delivers20a series of twisting and shifting solos that often head off to diverse paths. The album opens with a lively ramble that carries "Cryin' Through the Night," wherein Gilman uses pliant, picturesque chords while Sanders responds in kind with some proportionately optimistic rhythmic bass runs. The desirous "Whereabouts" follows suit with some cajoling keyboard magic and gamboling bass and drums interplay.
The three players also show a refined touch for ballads on unhurried "You and I," a flowing, leisurely stroll highlighting Wonder's intimate musical qualities and the threesome's attentive give and take skills, as well as fluent "Easy Goin' Evenin'," an adroit piece that applies shaded chord figures that furnish a slightly dark hue.
Two standouts include vigorous "Contusion," an upbeat, elastic cut that has a pouncing free insinuation during which the rhythm section pivots in and around Gilman's latticed piano embellishments; and balmy "Bird of Beauty," which has a piquant samba tang, with a firmly inclined piano commentary that adds peppery flavoring. Another highlight is bop-ish "Another Star," where the band surges with an animated pace during which Gilman illus trates his fast moving 88-keys fingering.
On View So Tender: Wonder Revisited, Volume Two Gilman is both educator and performer. He teaches those who listen with vigilant ears that jazz based on pop music can be energized, direct and straightforward without being nostalgic or imitative of the original source material. Equally important, Gilman demonstrates that open-hearted jazz is not a lost art form among younger jazz players.
~ Doug Simpson
Featured Artist: Joe Gilman Trio
I actually put off listening to this CD for a bit because I assumed it would be another collection of Stevie Wonder's trademark tunes. You know the ones - 'My Cherie Amour,' 'Isn't She Lovely,' 'Living For The City,' 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,' 'I Just Called to Say I Love You,' and all the rest of his hits. When I gave "View So Tender" a closer look, I was pleased to see that the California-based pianist Joe Gilman had really done his homework, digging far deeper than most into the endless riches of Wonder's songbook. Most of the tunes on View So Tender never became huge hits, and received little - if any - radio airplay. Yet Gilman's versions show that these less well-known gems are every bit as rewarding as Wonder's classic tunes, if not more so simply due to their lack of familiarity. Interestingly, most of the CD's ten tunes are from Wonder's later recordings, with four from the late 70s classic Songs in the Key of Life,and one each from his 80s albums Hotter Than July, Characters, and In Square Circle. Only 'You and I,' 'Bird Of Beauty,' and 'I Don't Know Why (I Love You)' predate 1976. Fortunately for us, Gilman has not written off the 80s as Wonder's unremittingly fallow years. In fact, View So Tender is proof positive of Wonder's continued viability as one of our greatest modern songwriters and composers.
The overall sound of Gilman's trio is quite similar to Ahmad Jamal's trio - especially the one with Jamil Nasser and Frank Gant. There is an abundance of detail here - sudden shifts in tempo and mood - that requires that particular trio's brand of musical telepathy. Like Jamal, Gilman has prodigious technique that he uses quite judiciously. Though steeped in blues, gospel, and jazz, Gilman's chops are clearly at the concert pianist level. Yet, his playing is rarely flowery or overwrought. During his probing, thoughtful solos, Gilman repeatedly dazzles by spinning off unexpected Tatum-esque runs or quoting bits of other popular tunes - these moments are filled with a palpable joy and enthusiasm. His young rhythm section is just as adept on their respective instruments. Drummer Justin Brown is an aggressive player who - from the sound of his solo on 'Cryin' In The Night' - has obviously played a lot of funk and fusion. Yet, he displays first-rate acoustic jazz instincts throughout View So Tender, with his deft brushwork and crackling on-the-beat propulsiveness that never overwhelms. On bass, Joe Sanders is a fluent and adept soloist, as well as an attentive and inventive accompanist who doesn't get pushed aside by the restless and busy playing of both Gilman and Brown.
Each of the ten tunes on View So Tender have been carefully re-arranged and re-imagined, but not so 'jazzified' that they are unrecognizable. Gilman's version of 'Knocks Me Off My Feet' is almost Wonder-rococo, with a mind-boggling array of stops and starts, tempo shifts, and sudden twists and turns. Despite all these convolutions, this piece really grooves all the way through! I was especially pleased to see 'Contusion' on the track listing - this instrumental from Songs In The Key Of Life was Wonder's artistically-successful take on the then-prevalent jazz-rock style. Gilman and his trio don't disappoint, recasting this brilliant fusion tune as an up-tempo swinger. The bossa-styled version 'Bird of Beauty' is no less rewarding, with wonderful solos by Gilman and Sanders coasting over Brown's quietly churning rhythms. 'Easy Goin' Evenin'' is another high point. Gilman, repeatedly referring to Wonder's melody, uses distinctively atmospheric harmonies to take the tune somewhere completely new. Funk is the order of the day on the CD-closing version of 'As If You Read My Mind.' Listening to this rhythmic tour de force with its perfectly placed stops and starts and meticulous attention to detail, I was again reminded - quite pleasantly - of the late-70s / early 80s Ahmad Jamal trio.
View So Tender is an excellent CD that bears repeated listenings - Gilman and his trio have mastered every aspect of the jazz piano trio game. Best of all, Gilman goes well beyond merely covering Stevie Wonder's tunes - he shows why Stevie Wonder, in many ways, is one of America's greatest and most versatile composers. Bravo!
~ Dave Wayne
mike.holmes's Full Review: View So Tender: Wonder Revisted Vol. 2 * by Joe Gilman
When Stevie Wonder first hit the musical air waves in the 1960's, I knew that he would be a major force in music. Wonder is not only an accomplished musician on keyboards and harmonica, but he is also a fine composer. He has worked in several genres including Rock, jazz, R & B and soul.
Joe Gilman is also an accomplished musician who is also a full-time music educator. He is the music director for the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, California. Joe has worked with a number of jazz greats including Joe Henderson, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Bobby Hutcherson, Chris Botti and Eric Alexander.
This CD is actually Joe's second album featuring the music of Stevie Wonder. Gilman has also visited and re-visited the works of The Beatles and Dave Brubeck. Joining Joe on this CD are Joe Sanders on bass and Justin Brown on drums.
The CD opens with "CRYIN' THROUGH THE NIGHT" which is both an energetic and blues-fused song that starts jumpin' from the opening notes. Gilman's interpretation of Stevie's songs are pure jazz and this one is a great example. Gilman throws some quotes from "Fascinating Rhythm" along the way. What is truly impressive is Gilman's and his mates' obvious "tightness." Sanders and Brown are in perfect sync with Gilman and Sanders also plays a great solo (while he "hums" along quietly"). Gilman hits some interesting notes which are repeated as 1/8 notes so rapidly that I thought my CD was repeating and his plays some great chordal progrssions.
Next up is "WHEREABOUTS" which is a much calmer presentation of a gorgeous Wonder composition. Gilman, who has studied both classical and jazz piano, exhibits part of the classical training during parts of this song but there are also clear jazz licks. It's hard to describe how beautiful and moving this music is. It's certainly "straight" jazz (not smooth) with hints of bebop in the interpretation. Gilman, Sanders and Brown play in gorgeous unison throughout the song except when either the pianist or bassist are soloing.
"KNOCK ME OFF MY FEET" starts off with more tremendous choral playing by Gilman and grooves right into the soulful feeling of the song. To be truthful, I haven't heard this song before but I do believe that the Gilman Trio's performance undoubtedly pleases Stevie Wonder. While the song starts off fairly simply, the complexity and tempo build throughout to the end. Beautiufl.
"YOU AND I" begins quietly with solo piano, adds a quiet bass and cymbols in what has to be one of the most beautiful songs that Stevie ever wrote. The song is a wondrous statement of love between to people and Gilman and his mates play it with a soft power that translates the notes perfectly. This one gives me cold chills.
The rest of the songs on the CD are equally fine "revisits" of Wonder's songbook:
"CONTUSION" is arranged and played in an avant garde manner at first and blossoms into a full jazz journey
"BIRD OF BEAUTY" is played with a Latin feeling with great work by Brown on drums
"EASY GOIN' EVENIN'" features some amazing playing by both Gilman and Sanders (at times in astounding usison)
"ANOTHER STAR" is played at a rocket-propelled tempo which never lets up
"DON'T KNOW WHY I LOVE YOU"-fascinating arrangement which feautures fine work by all three musicians-quiet, moving statement that is very blues-oriented
"AS IF YOU READ MY MIND"-great ending to the album which again shows off the 'tightness" of this talented trio of musicians
I haven't listened to Joe Gilman before. I guarantee that I will buy his other CD's. This is a joy to listen to.
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