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Grant Geisman: Bop! Bang! Boom!

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L.A.-based guitarist Grant Geissman made his name with the “contemporary” jazz and commercial work that are so much a part of the Southern California scene. Bop! Bang! Boom! is advertised as his third CD in a trilogy that represents his “shift to more traditional jazz expressions.” Yet like Say That! (2006) and Cool Man Cool (2009), those expressions are cloaked in hot-tub sheen.

The opening “Boom!” features a fine guitar solo-Geissman’s claim to jazz fame is his 1978 solo on Chuck Mangione’s early smooth-jazz hit “Feels So Good”-yet even the contributions of former Weather Report percussionist Alex Acuña can’t overcome its pedestrian framework. “The Singularity” also seems like a composition based around a guitar solo, despite the efforts of Tierney Sutton’s ace rhythm-section mates Kevin Axt (bass) and Ray Brinker (drums). A parade of guest stars includes saxophonist Tom Scott on the Latin-tinged Quincy Jones nod “Q Tip” and shuffling closer “Off the Grid,” and Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante playing electric piano on Geissman’s classically influenced “Un Poco Español” and the 5/8-timed “Good Morning, Mr. Phelps.”

Yet even the most anticipated guest number draws yawns. “Texas Shuffle” features the extraordinary pickers Albert Lee and Larry Carlton, whose guitar solos are nonetheless neutered by a rhythmic feel no more imaginative than the song’s title. Geissman made enough money to start his own label and release such works by composing the themes to network TV shows like Two and a Half Men. Which makes it unsurprising that there isn’t much bop in Bop! Bang! Boom!

Originally Published