The key to success for any sideman who takes the plunge into the realm of solo artistry is finding a unique voice on his chosen instrument. For Gerald Veasley, his 1992 Heads Up debut Look Ahead marked the beginning of his innovative solo vision. Now, the dynamic, eclectic Signs further establishes Gerald's special place in contemporary jazz/funk music.
"I'm more focused this time out," Gerald says of the new collection, which features all-star contributions from Grover Washington, Jr., Russell Ferrante, Dennis Chambers, and George Jinda & Chieli Minucci of Special EFX. "With each project, I come closer to finding that voice as a player/composer. One of the challenges is arriving at a central direction. I like to play dance and R&B grooves, even a little blues and rock, but enjoy the playful spontaneity of jazz. The rhythm is important to me, but on top of that, I like to infuse the fun of my live performances. I like a balance of various moods."
Gerald lays down the first of numerous street vibes on the punchy, soulful "Marvin's Mood," which cleverly mixes electronic and live percussion. The groove hops along on "A Lasting Moment," which finds Gerald uncovering his trademark breezy melodic guitar-sounding lines over an intense hip-hop bounce. He cools down for a touch of silk behind Juanita Johnson's sultry vocals on the ballad "Highway Home" before revving up once again for the explosive brassy blues/funk jam "Exit to the Street," which features Ben Schacter's free-for-all alto blowing.
The hooky, melodic title track offers Gerald's moodier, easy-going side as he works his way hypnotically around the simmering backing vocals of Johnson and Hakim Davis. Grover Washington, Jr.'s powerfully expressive horn highlights two totally unique moodswings, the tropical, brassy free-for-all "Salamanca" and the steamy, late night simmer of "Soul Seduction." Between these two Grover tracks is the whimsically romantic "Imani," on which Gerald displays more of his six-string bass diversity.
The tender yet jazzy improvisation style of pianist Russell Ferrante blends with Gerald's insistent grooves on a soulful, up-tempo reworking of Michel Legrand's "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" Gerald concludes his vast array of multi-stylistic Signs with two more traditional jazz-type jaunts, the lively, hypnotic "Walking Through Walls" and the thoughtful, lighthearted (and well-titled) sax and bass driven "Tranquility Bass."