From his time with the Count Basie Orchestra in the 80s through his work with jazz and R&B icons Sarah Vaughan, Etta Jones and The Isley Brothers and on to numerous albums leading dynamic ensembles, legendary guitarist Gerry Eastman has amassed a resume full of fanciful expressive twists and turns.
Yet his deeper legacy has long been cemented by his founding of and serving as president and artistic director for Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Music Center – which since 1981 has been a welcoming beacon for all kinds of African American and African music – ranging from jazz, funk, soul and spoken word performances while serving as a multi-media curator for cultural history.
Decades after releasing his first solo recordings, Eastman’s still busting boundaries and innovating up hard grooving storms, often in unexpected ways, as on Trust Me, a fiery, furious (yet imminently lyrical, melodic and soul-stirring) set that blends intense bustle and sly sensuality to bring the dynamics of the classic jazz organ trio to the present day.
Vibing effortlessly and in sharp, exciting, often head and heart spinning rapport with organist Greg Lewis and drummer Taru Alexander (two cats also with miles-long jazz and blues resumes, Eastman lays a foundation for the way forward for this classic style with a set seemingly designed for the sole purpose of high energy, freewheeling jams that dart in a multitude of directions, with ample wild solo time for each musician.
Highlights include the crackling, hypnotic title track, the hard-slammin’, drum intensive “St. Marteen Swing” and a fresh, slow burning meditative twist on an earlier Eastman tune “Native Son.” Perhaps the quirkiest all around piece is the lively, swinging blues romp “Learn from Youir Mistacks,” whose intentionally misspelled title reflects its joyous offbeat, even slightly humorous, magic.