REFLECTION: Pianist Gerald Clayton is a forerunner of innovation and a permanent fixture in today’s jazz

Pianist/composer Gerald Clayton returns as a prominent player in a crowded smorgasbord of impassioned musicians with his latest project “Life Forum.” With this offering, he continues to assure listeners he’s truly a forerunner of innovation and a permanent fixture in today’s jazz. The eclecticism of Gerald’s compositional style groans with the complexity of intrepid harmonies, compassion, and stimulating melodies are evenly augmented through the remnants of thirteen transformative pieces on “Life Forum.”

The album opens with “A Life Forum,” this piece resonates with a futuristic baritone voice shaped by spoken word artist Carl Hancock Rux. In reality, traditionalists probably won’t feel this vibe. With that said, this outing is comprised of unorthodox melodies and rhythms cased in the model jazz artists dare engage themselves in. Moreover, that’s why I embrace Clayton’s style as he constantly challenges the playing field to reveal an unexpected yet relevant body of work that grows on you more and more with each listen. Case in point, “Future Reflection” takes you into a new dimension from the opener to elevate you further with its transparent shapes, colors and abstract layers are echoed by the following “Shadamanthem, Sir Third and Deep Dry Ocean” is a mere snapshot of this wonderful canvas of music.

As I listen his intuitive, luminous, and fragmented exchanges are illuminated by his usual suspects featured on “Life Forum” this gives me even more reason to return for more spins. Not by happenstance, Gerald is not totally removed from his family lineage of straight-ahead jazz (Under Madhatter Medicinal Groupon (Ummg). At any rate, his voicings are submerged in the perspective of composing, playing, and recording lyrically adventurous music. Frankly, that’s what I love so much about his acquisitive and artistic voice.

Notably, the ensemble’s perplexed phrasings are broadcast endlessly by their resilient symmetry surpasses the ordinary to expose the multiplicity, elements, and surreal moments achieved throughout this never-ending journey is well worth exploring. If you’re audacious in spirit (musically), please don’t hesitate to add “Life Forum” to your collection today.

*Originally reviewed: October 2, 2013, by Rob Young

Listen here, to “LIFE FORUM” by pianist/composer Gerald Clayton it’s definitely worth your time.


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