Grant Gordy may have moved to Brooklyn seven years ago, but I still consider him a local music hero. You can take the guitar player out of Colorado, but you can’t take the Colorado out of the guitar player… is how the saying goes, I think?
If you’re not familiar with the name, Gordy is a modern young guitarist of the highest caliber, who this week released a surprising new album. Surprising, in part, because of its musical and sonic greatness, but also because Gordy is most often seen and heard with a Martin acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder.
In his latest release,”Interpreter,” Gordy breaks out the hollowbody electric guitar and works through dynamic compositions and standards with a trio that reminds me of the sound of Pat Metheny’s early album, “Bright Size Life,” in a compositional and melodic way. There are strong flashes of Grant Green and Wes Montgomery in there as well, brought to mind by the tracks “Joshua” and “Old Folks,” respectively.
Ever since my first exposure to “Bright Size Life,” I’ve developed a fondness for guitar-led jazz. Metheny’s homage to Montgomery and Green in some of his voicings shows up in a similar way in Gordy’s “Interpreter.” All of these guys represent for me a type of excellent jazz that is engaging but not overwhelming — clearly they’re cut from the same cloth.
Gordy’s “Interpreter” keeps my rapt attention through the entire album, and the other players on the record have might have something to do with that as well. Drummer Alwyn Robinson gets a lot of ear time, and his busy, sometimes dizzying patter of touches shows a deep knowledge of the snare drum. He gets just as many sounds and feels out of that thing as Metheny’s longtime drummer Antonio Sanchez reaps from his cymbals.
Speaking of Metheny, I might not be making so many references to the world class guitarist if Grant’s hollowbody and sense of propriety in exploring the more somber side of the jazz sound didn’t remind me so much of the foundational player.
Listening deeply to Gordy reveals a thoughtful mind with a careful approach and unique ideas. David “Dawg” Grisman, the legend, who employed Gordy for years as guitarist in his eponymous quintet, said that “Grant belongs to the new elite of American acoustic practitioners who are pushing the ever-expanding envelope of a musical frontier.”
Acoustic music these days — from bluegrass to folk to more classical endeavors — is being reshaped and represented by a new crop of elite players, and more than a few hail from Colorado. Players like guitarist Courtney Hartman, mandolinist Dominick Leslie and Gordy come to mind, and looking further out across the nation, the future is bright for fans of string-based music. Heck, the present may be almost blinding.
Gordy’s “Interpreter” may not purely focus on his acoustic chops, but it shows some of the breadth and depth of the former Coloradan, and why he is, in the words of Mugatu from “Zoolander,” “so hot right now.”
Get yourself a copy of this record via Gordy’s website. Gordy has created a record that I love, and which will be played a lot in my house. I have a feeling you’ll like it too.