Yes, you can find Parris in New York. Not Paris, the city, of course, but rather Gil Parris, virtuoso guitarist who's here in New York City -- tonight. Not only here, but surrounded by an impressive group. Check out the cover of what will be a Live CD that is going to be made from Wednesday evening's 8:00 PM performance with GIL PARRIS AND FRIENDS at the Irvington Town Hall Theatre. Friends are none other than Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman Show, David Mann, Grammy nominated saxophone player, Randy Brecker, Grammy nominated trumpet player, along with vocalists Vanesse Thomas, Tommy "Pipes" McDonnell , and Master of Ceremonies Carolyn Kepcher of Apprentice.. There will even be an appearance by Bernie Williams of the New York Yankees. The show and the DVD will be dedicated to the late Michael Brecker, talented musician and brother of Randy Brecker.
So now you know the name Gil Parris, but I wonder if you know him? There’s really no way for a music writer like me to introduce and get you excited about someone whose guitar playing and composing you may be missing so unnecessarily. Better to let those who know not only the music business, but also a great guitar sound when they hear it, help get the point across. Prepare yourself, then, to read what people like Chuck Loeb, Jeff Golub, David Clayton-Thomas (of Blood, Sweat and Tears), and a few well-respected magazine guitar gurus have to say. Here we go:
"Gil Parris is without a doubt one of the rising stars of the guitar at this time. His command of many techniques and styles has dazzled me since I first heard him play a few years back, and with his new project, he brings all of that
and more to the small jazz group setting. I can't wait to hear what he'll do next." - Chuck Loeb
"Gil's a very talented player. He fit right into the band the first night he played with us and made the guitar chair his own." - David Clayton-Thomas to the "New York Times" about Gil's work with Blood, Sweat & Tears.
"While most players his age tend to get carried away with effects and distortion, Gil's playing is clean and precise, especially considering the difficulty and speed of some of his lines." - Mike Varney, "Guitar Player" Spotlight
"Gil Parris shines through as the brightest new star in the genre since Larry Carlton." - Guitar Magazine
"A dazzling mixture of jazz, light funk, and even country, Parris' playing is so hot it avoids any cliches from those styles." - Vintage Guitar Magazine
"Gil never fails to impress me with his excellent command of the guitar. This cat can really play!" - Jeff Golub
All those quotes are intended to get, and hold, your attention, so that you can discover this gifted artist. Because Gil Parris has released albums in over four different genres: R&B, smooth jazz, traditional jazz and blues, he doesn’t fit neatly into any mold within the contemporary jazz genre. And his philosophy demands that he doesn’t fit into a mold. He’s also done an instructional video entitled, Modern Blues Guitar, and has been part of the national video, “Masters of the Stratocaster.”
For the contemporary 'smooth jazz' music fan, at least two of his albums fall into the category of potentially your most beloved CDs. That first album, titled simply Gil Parris, is a masterpiece of playing and includes original compositions as well as cover songs ‘Rainy Day in Georgia’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.’ The original compositions as well as the cover songs are compelling, powerful tunes. Players on this CD include Will Lee, David Sanborn, Bob James, Mark Egan, Harvey Mason, Larry Goldings.
Those of us who heard and loved the first one have long-awaited the second one, entitled Strength, released this past August. One of the songs from the first CD, ‘When Love Was New,’ reappears on the newly released CD, this time with a slightly faster tempo and some new solo guitar lines. Once again, Parris has given us a stunning example of his composing and his playing. The CD is filled with tunes you want to hear over and over. Strength, produced by talented saxophone player/composer/arranger David Mann, also features Bob Baldwin and Randy Brecker.
In addition to playing with people like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Dr.John, Syndicate of Soul, Bill Doggett, and David Mann, Gil appears regularly in concert around the New York City area. He has been featured at the Catalina Jazz Trax Festival and the Berks Jazz Festival. And he also has a number of other CDs. One is billed as his 'sonic smorgasbord' recorded in front of a live audience, one is a tribute to Wes Montgomery, and of course there are his instructional videos, as well.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching Parris play a number of times, most recently at his CD release party, held in August of 2006. With David Mann on saxophone, Thierry Arpino on drums (Thierry is quite a drummer who tours with Jean Luc Ponty) , Matt King on keyboard, and Kip Sophos on bass, it was quite a memorable night. Each artist had solo performances over the course of two sets, and even the management of the Metropolitan Café didn’t want to miss one minute of Parris working his guitar magic or the rest of the band mesmerizing all of us.
I had a chance to talk with Gil Parris and also David Mann about the production of this CD and what it means in the career path that Parris is taking these days. They're both excited about the way the CD turned out and hope it places Gil Parris where he belongs -- squarely in front of a new and wider audience who, up until now, may not realize the unique talent that he is.
In addition to the new CD, Gil has also finished shooting an infomercial which features the romantic side of him (note the rose on his guitar.) This infomercial, according to Gil, will be aired in 60 and 90 second spots along with the DVD release on television stations around the country.
Of the show for this evening, Gil says it will be a great night and he's excited to have others be a part of it. In case you're wondering, it's true the Master of Ceremonies, Carolyn Kepcher, is Donald Trump's right hand girl, and she'll be there simply because she loves Gil's music!
To learn more about Gil Parris, please visit:
Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council