Livestream: Gerald Clayton
Wednesday, May 6, 2020 | 7:00 pm
We’re continuing the series with pianist and composer Gerald Clayton.
We’re encouraging our viewers to give to two important fundraising efforts organized by local arts organizations — the Durham Arts Council’s Arts Recovery Fund and NorthStar Church of the Arts’ Durham Artist Relief Fund — to directly support the Durham arts community. Gerald also asks that folks consider supporting Frontline Wellness United, which works to provide no-cost medical and wellness care, training, and equipment to social-justice workers, environmental justice workers, and nonviolent civil-resistance movements. (These funds are not associated with Duke University.)
Gerald Clayton searches for honest expression in every note he plays. With harmonic curiosity and critical awareness, he develops musical narratives that unfold as a result of both deliberate searching and chance uncovering. The four-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist/composer formally began his musical journey at the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where he received the 2002 Presidential Scholar of the Arts Award. Continuing his scholarly pursuits, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance at USC’s Thornton School of Music under the instruction of piano icon Billy Childs, after a year of intensive study with NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron at The Manhattan School of Music. Clayton won second place in the 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition.
In the 2016-17 year, Clayton turned his imaginative curiosity toward uncovering the essence of the Piedmont Blues experience and expression in early twentieth century Durham. A Duke University commission, Clayton’s evening-length composition explores a mixed-media performance featuring vocalist Rene Marie, gospel choir, two tap dancers and a nine-piece band including some of the most resonating voices in contemporary music. 2020 marks his first year as director of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, leading a big band of all-star high school students from around the country in performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Clayton’s discography as a leader reflects his evolution as an artist. His debut recording, Two Shade (ArtistShare), earned a 2010 GRAMMY nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “All of You.” “Battle Circle,” his composition featured on The Clayton Brothers’ recording The New Song and Dance (ArtistShare), received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Composition in 2011. He received 2012 and 2013 GRAMMY nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Bond: The Paris Sessions (Concord) and Life Forum (Concord), his second and third album releases.