“For San Diego musicians, Rob Crow and Jason Mraz are pretty prolific and well-known,” says Grant Clarkson, “but neither of them has already put out three albums this year.” The multi-instrumentalist explains that his disparate endeavors required a trio of full-length releases: Free Quartet, Meditations, and Ups and Downs.
Free Quartet is an all-acoustic and all-improvisational double album recorded in January at Flight 19 Studios, featuring Richard Sellers (drums), Sky Ladd (piano), Derek Cannon (horns), and Clarkson on acoustic upright bass. “I would recommend this one to those who appreciate acoustic jazz...or just want a real ensemble album without any studio trickery. Despite the avant-garde quality, it is smooth and romantic in places.”
Meditations sports progressive rock, traditional jazz, and Latin flavors from sessions mixed down at Richard Sellers’s studio the Soul Kitchen, using methods the duo has developed over years of working together. “I compose and perform all the parts, starting with electric bass, then my Rhodes piano, guitar, and then organ and horn section by way of MIDI bass. Then I hand off the master tracks to Richard to perform and record his drum and percussion parts.”
As for Ups and Downs, “For years I’ve been building what I call my commercial reel,” says Clarkson. “These are excerpts ranging from 30 seconds to 2 minutes long, which are cut from longer compositions, with music and sound libraries in mind...the earliest pieces in this ever-growing reel date back to about 1998, and so far there are 151 pieces in there.”
So why release a full-length with 47 of these? “There’s a lot of stuff that works well in there, and putting the tracks in the right order made it take fun shape as an album. Also, my online distributor has recently made a deal with a placement curator, so all these tracks stand a fresh chance for licensing and royalties by releasing them this way.”
Not that the collection wouldn’t interest casual listeners. “I would recommend it for anyone with short attention spans.” Grant Clarkson appears on Thursday, June 21, at the San Diego County Fair, and on Sunday, June 24, at Spaghetteria in Little Italy.