Need to relax? Check out "Life is Good" An interview with Tom Grant

Oct. 8, 2008

I can’t remember what year it was, but I think the first time I saw Tom Grant play was at one of the summer big band music festivals they used to hold in Arlington. We must have been coming back from a vacation and saw all the activity, so we stopped by. Anyway, Tom is always turning up in my column for his CEBU Lounge shows, and I’m pretty sure we saw him earlier this year, around Valentines Day. It makes for a nice evening. He plays with a top-notch band and he’s usually teamed up with a great female singer.

Tom recently sent in a promo copy of his new disc, “Life is Good.” I’d call it piano-based smooth jazz. I have one other CD of his, “Edge of the World,” which is pretty similar in format, maybe more of a pop feel, though. His new disc features singer Shelly Rudolph on a song they wrote together, “Gold,” which really stands out after listening to the first few instrumental tunes. Tom did use some electronic/drum programming on these tracks, and with the exception of two or three tunes, it’s an instrumental album. So, if you need some music for that dinner-party, or just want to zone-out and relax, check this disc out!


Read Jim’s interview with Tom Grant

1. You recently did a show at the Hood River Inn - CEBU Lounge. How did that CD release party go?

It was great...packed on a Tuesday night in HR. Big success. I had Shelly Rudolph singing with me and it was great fun. People in HR are starting to catch on to our gig there...we’ve been doing this for 3 years now.

It’s always the third Tuesday of every month.

2. Let's talk about the new CD – “Life is Good.” How is the album being received, and who are some of the artists that have helped you out on this CD?

Besides Shelly, I’ve got drummer Reinhardt Mels on two tracks, David Captein on bass for 3 tracks, and drummer Jeffrey Frankel on 1 track. A guitarist named Ross Seligman on one track,...and Danny Schauffler who has played Cebu with me twice, is on the very first cut.

3. How long did it take to record this project? Do you record in your own home studio?

Yes I record in my home studio. Some of the songs have been knocking around in my computer for up to 5 years. I got serious about this as a record maybe 2 years ago. So it’s been a bit of a process. But I have fun recording. We did some actual live recording ...that is live in the studio without using programmed drums, bass, etc. But a lot of it...I’d say most is with programmed instruments. So since I was able to take my time with this, I did. They’re all original songs and I tinkered with everything endlessly.

4. What would you say is the biggest difference between this new album and your first recordings?

I’d say that I know a lot more about the recording process. And I like the songs I’m writing now better than most of the old ones. My first recordings were fairly primitive. But then that was back in the 70’s and early 80’s. They had to sound like the era from which they came. I had a record that came out in 1980 called “You Hardly Know Me” and I tried to make it a bunch of pop songs. When I hear that record now it’s rather embarrassing. There’s a few cuts that don’t make me wretch and convulse. But overall, it’s bad. And that album won’t go away. I see it on YouTube where some idiot has just taken the album cover and that’s the only visual all thru one of the more excruciating songs of that album. There’s some other funny Tom Grant stuff on YouTube these days. And there will be more.

5. There's a lot of different types of jazz. What category does your style fit in?

Well I like to play straight ahead jazz (Miles, Coltrane, Monk, etc.) but I also like the standards and these days especially, I love to accompany singers. I play with several singers and I’ve had lots of them up to CEBU over the past 3 years.

But the current album is a throwback to the stuff I was doing in the 80’s and 90’s so it’s more of a “smooth jazz” type record...sometimes called funky jazz, crossover, pop jazz, fusion jazz or new age. Categories are stupid but necessary for marketing I guess. So I thought I’d make this one easy for marketing...”smooth jazz..106.7 Kay-Kay Jay ZEE” that’s what I used to say in my best breathy radio voice back in the late 90’s when I had a radio show on the local smooth jazz station in Portland. I did some pretty good interviews back then...Grover Washington, Chuck Mangione, Diana Krall, etc.

Well I hope that helps Jim.

You can email me if you want any clarifications, etc.


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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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