Professor has The Flow

The Flow
Produced by PSU Professor
Darrell Grant
Featuring Marilyn Keller,
G-Natural, Latanya Carter,
Proz & Conz and more
Benefits The Flow Project
Buy at Djangos, Music Millennium
and Ozone Records
(503) 226-4566
for more info

Darrell Grant can usually be found teaching technique to future professional jazz musicians in a Lincoln Hall classroom. When he’s not teaching jazz improvisation classes or helping out the music department in other ways, Grant performs all over the Portland area as a celebrated pianist.

With so much invested in personal performance and the jazz studies program, it may be difficult to imagine the man doing anything but jazz.

Audiences saw a glimpse of a different side of Grant’s musical tastes during this winter’s production of “A Soul-Filled Messiah” with the PSU Chamber Choir and local singers. Grant was a part of the concert, which combined gospel-like vocals with local powerhouse singers and rappers.

Now, those tastes come back in a new CD that he produced. The CD, called The Flow (A 3-Point Play), combines rap, hip-hop, soul, funk and jazz to create a nearly 15 minute set of truly entertaining music. In this mini-album, Grant unites local instrumentalists, vocalists and rappers for a short yet unique musical experience.

Is Grant going for the Grammys with The Flow? Grant is already known internationally as a jazz pianist and recording artist, with many of his previous albums reaching the tops of the national charts. This three-song CD has a more local reach, with a different purpose.

“This endeavor is about using the power of music as a means by which to inspire people to support community,” Grant said.

Proceeds from the sale of this new CD will go towards The Flow Project, an organization created to give youth the power to positively affect their communities.

With the Flow Project, area youth are encouraged to come up with personal solutions to the problems in their communities. Once the organization approves a youth’s idea, grants are awarded and that child’s dream for a better community becomes a reality.

Grant has participated in a similar music project with his 1999 jazz release, Smokin’ Java. The CD provided aid to Coffee Kids, an organization that helps children and their parents in coffee-producing countries.

The previous emphasis was scaled globally, but now Grant’s hitting home. The music even reflects the city of Portland, with a song about our basketball team and lyrics like “the sound of Po-Town.”

The title track, “The Flow,” is all about the Blazers’ unity as a team. It sort of reminds me of the “Gotta Get a Headband” that Z-100 recorded last year. It has a catchy female vocal chorus, with chanting rappers comprising the verses.

Grant feels that the spirit behind this Blazer fight song is universal.

“The NBA is a lot about stars,” Grant said. “but the Blazers, even with all their talent, live or die as a team … their magic can inspire all of us to find that groove where we work together for something greater.”

Even on the official flier for The Flow, Grant stated, “‘The Flow’ was inspired by basketball and is dedicated to the Portland Trailblazers, who are right at the heart of P-Town. B-ball, at its best, is to me an inspiration to celebrate teamwork and to work towards a goal larger than myself.”

The second song, “The House of Soul,” has a funk/jazz feel, sounding quite like a Gloria Estefan song. It features Marilyn Keller, the talented soul singer who was featured with the PSU Chamber Choir in “Soul-Filled Messiah.” It’s a soothing song that is perfect for lazy summer days. Just in time for the good weather.

Grant can be found playing his famous style of jazz piano on the third track, titled “Fortune Rains.” This song suggests the mixed feeling of being in a charismatic church and being in a dark beatnik club. Over the soothing sounds of the jazz piano and female harmonies Grant speaks in proverbial sentences.

“Fortune Rains” seems to be a song of thanksgiving for blessings. This definitely has a jazz taste amidst some amazing soul vocals, provided by Tracey Harris. “Fortune Rains” is perfect for the majority of the year, when the rain starts to get edgy.

The three songs are meant to inspire and get feet tapping. The songs are of professional quality, produced by Grant at his Lair Hill Records studio. In just three songs, many different styles of music are represented. Somewhere in there, Grant hopes to bring in the youth of Portland.

The Flow Project’s Web site reads, “Throughout the history of our culture, the impetus for change has often begun with young people. Their energy, courage, and clear vision is often the engine that moves the rest of the world toward better things.”

The Flow (A 3-Point Play) is on sale now, and can be found at Music Millennium, Djangos and Ozone Records. Again, the CD sales don’t go to a record company or executive. The profits go straight to the kids who want to make their communities better.