Tall Tales, featuring Dean Granros, Zacc Harris, Chris Bates, and Jay Epstein, will celebrate the release its self-titled debut on Shifting Paradigm Records at Icehouse in Minneapolis on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 9:30p. Cover is $12 and includes a copy of the CD. The album will also be available for download at www.shiftingparadigmrecords.com as well as iTunes and other digital distributors.
Guitarist and composer Dean Granros has resurged as a presence in the Twin Cities jazz scene over the past year. A mainstay since the early 1970s West Bank music boom, Granros draws from a number of influences, combining delta blues, classical, rock ‘n roll, country, western swing, and world music into a boiling cauldron of his own unique jazz broth. His musical role models range from Charles Ives and Olivier Messiaen, to Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Steve Lacy, and Anthony Braxton, to Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Granros has been a pioneer of improvised music on guitar, and is considered by fans and notably musicians, to be one of the most brilliant musical minds in the upper Midwest. He has collaborated over the years with Dave King, Anthony Cox, Eric Gravatt, Lee Konitz, George Cartwright, Happy Apple, the Whole Earth Rainbow Band, How Birds Work, and countless other projects.
In September 2014, Granros joined guitarist Zacc Harris, bassist Chris Bates, and drummer Jay Epstein, all powerhouses of the Twin Cities jazz scene themselves, for what was supposed to be a ‘one-off’ performance at Jazz Central’s Bridge Series. The night turned out to be magical, as the dueling guitars of Granros and Harris kept driving the music further and further, powered by the juggernaut rhythm section of Bates and Epstein. The quartet decided to record an album, and the group Tall Tales was born.
After more than 40 years of performing and recording, Granros releases his first album as leader featuring his compositions, on Shifting Paradigm Records. With this release, Granros continues to pursue an inclusive vision that extrapolates the current and future from the past.
The five original compositions span the breadth of his influences and act as vessels for something new and exciting to happen each time they are played. The album starts with “Blues For Al”, a 13-bar altered blues written for Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. Then comes “Chinese Orange”, a quirky even-8th note melody that makes way for some intrepid co-improvisation by Granros and Harris and showcases Epstein’s unique use of percussion. Next is the raucus and aptly named “Roots”, which evokes a sense of Americana rock. “No. 2” is a moody piece in D minor, which begins with a drone and eventually gives way to a moving electric blues groove. The two standards on the album come next, with Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream”, then Django Reinhardt’s ballad “Nuages” which Granros introduces with a beautiful solo guitar exploration. Finally, “For Sonny Sharrock” is a driving jazz rock number written for the free jazz guitarist which rolls and spirals upward and upward into a rollicking frenzy to close out the album.
The collaboration of these four musicians in this unique two-guitar quartet brings something entirely new to the Twin Cities jazz scene, while finally giving the genius of Granros a platform to shine. The juxtaposition of concept and tone between Granros and Harris keeps the music rolling along, with unexpected turns at every moment, while still they compliment one other as if they had played together for decades. Add to that the familiar and formidable rhythm section of Epstein and Bates, whose creativity and facility move with the music seamlessly, elevating it to new heights at every step.
The result is a collection of diverse pieces that take the listener on a journey, both cerebral and visceral, where the organic execution of the material draws the listener in and allows appreciation of the band’s spontaneity without its compositional depth and complexity overshadowing its musicality.