Featuring guitar greats Robben Ford and Bill Frisell, the material on "Dance Hall" reflects Jerry Granelli’s deep gratitude to the artists who originally wrote and recorded these great songs, and at this point in his life the sheer joy of playing the drums. “The key was not doing covers, but finding songs that were personal to my journey. We kept it as open and spontaneous as possible; it’s about the joy of finding the freedom in the form.”
The inspiration or vision for a recording, the source or the sound that I can hear (and almost see) in my head seems to arise in a moment. But it may take years to actually realize. That was the path of this album, Dance Hall. I can trace it back to the first recording I made with Bill and Robben in 1992, A Song I Thought I Heard Buddy Sing. That’s when I started hearing the sound of two guitars as one big one – and that sound was Bill and Robben, both friends and colleagues. When we finished that recording, there was the spark for this work – wanting to hear them play rhythm and blues. Well, it took a long time, until 2015, when backstage at the jazz festival in Halifax; Bill asked the question “Are you ever going to record with that band again?” I said, “I have this idea for a rhythm and blues project.” He says, “I’m in.” I call Robben – same answer. “ Lee, what are you seeing?”… “Of course. Let’s do it.”
Finding the Material
The key for me was not doing covers, but finding songs that were personal to my journey. That is what each one of these songs is for me – from hearing Louis Jordan and “Caldonia”, I guess back to 4 years old, all the way through to hearing ARETHA sing “Never Gonna Break My Faith” on a flight from Europe a month before the recording. So that’s part of the story of how we got here.
This work for me reflects deep gratitude for all the artists who originally wrote and recorded these great songs, and for me at this point in my life, the sheer joy of playing the drums. We kept it as open and spontaneous within the forms as possible. Even Steven Bernstein’s horn writing, though precise, also left many options. And J. Anthony’s bass lines did the same. So perhaps this one is about the joy of finding the freedom in the form.