1998 (Lair Hill Records)

Smokin Java

Smokin’ Java, Darrell Grant’s fourth CD release is a tale composed in music, prose, and pictures and inspired by Grant’s own journey from New York to his adopted home of Portland, Oregon. With a cast comprised of some of New York’s most outstanding jazz talents, Grant’s quintet (including drummer Brian Blade, saxophonist Donald Harrison, vibraphonist Joe Lock, and bassist Bob Stata) spin mainstream jazz into a rich tapestry of sound with classic jazz standards, lyrical ballads, and distinctive originals. Smokin’ Java’s Special Edition CD included a colorful 24-page photo booklet and featured Grant’s original short story—tales from a day in the life of Langston, a musician—framed by arresting and intimate photos of Portland’s people and places. When the pianist left New York for Portland in 1997 to accept a professorship at Portland State University, he found a local music scene that encouraged individual expression. “There is something about being in the Northwest that inspires a fresh kind of thinking,” Grant says. “They do things differently out here. Being in this place has definitely inspired me to break the mold, to look for new ways to reach people and fresh ways to tell my story.”

Easily recommended…A fine recording from Grant, further evidence as to his increasing cachet as one of the more talented 30-something neo-bopper…A great storyteller.
— The All Music Guide