Greg Grant,
Bisbe Street
(Altered State, 2002)

Bisbe Street is named for the area in Barcelona, near the cathedral, where Greg Grant spent many hours playing the tunes he composed and the music he enjoys. This CD consists entirely of compositions "born" in Barcelona.

Grant plays alto sax and sometimes drums on the CD but, multi-talented fellow that he is, he can also play guitar and sing. He was born in New York City and is now based in Montana, but the interim years saw him leading a nomadic existence, traveling Canada, Central America, the U.S. and Europe. He spent three years in Spain. He expresses admiration for and admits to the influence of many diverse musical styles: jazz, rock, folk, techno, blues and flamenco, and Bisbe Street is a blend of cultures and a fusion of international influence.

Sometimes the sound is intriguingly innovative, but sometimes I found myself checking the CD player to reassure myself it was not stuck in a loop! At times the music has a hypnotic, Arabic quality, Greg's sax and the double bass of James Whiton melding and interweaving sinuous patterns to the gently persistent beat of Guido Perla's percussion. Strains of a Spanish fiesta can be ascertained, then slip away as blues momentarily dominates, then is overtaken with a feel of jazz.

Altered State Records pride themselves on promoting experimental sound, and with Greg Grant, they certainly have an adventurous style of music to promote. Apart from the occasional heavily repetitive phrasing, the album is intriguing, unpredictable and slightly unsettling; its smooth sax playing, normally soothing, is instead thought-provoking and with a faint, barely discernable whiff of the sinister. Grant's skills could be well utilized in providing atmospheric and memorable soundtracks, should he wish to explore that direction.

I am not quite sure whether I actually like the music or not, but if you like sax, quite like jazz and are open to new concepts and novel sound structures, then give this CD a try. Grant has travelled extensively; his horizons are perhaps wider than we commonly perceive them to be.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 21 December 2002