Over the course of eight years, with three albums as a leader, several studio projects as a sideman, and countless worldwide performances, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has established himself as a leading figure in the up-and-coming generation of jazz artists who are fluent in the range of styles that make up today´s jazz lexicon. Hailed by The New York Times for his "huge, authoritative presence," Clayton is well on his way toward etching his own enduring mark in the long and rich tradition of jazz. Never has this been more apparent than in Life Forum, his latest recording on Concord Jazz and his most ambitious project to date.
Born in the Netherlands in 1984 and raised in Southern California, Clayton took his first piano lessons before age seven with the full support and encouragement of his father, the acclaimed jazz bassist, composer and bandleader, John Clayton. Music was a central part of his life from as long as he can remember and it became a lifetime commitment very early on:
"I was in the third grade, and there was a talent show where I played a boogie-woogie piece that my dad had written for me," he recalls. "It was the first time that I played for an audience where I felt that people were really moved by something that I had just played. I remember thinking, ´Yep, this is what I´ll be doing for the rest of my life.´"
Clayton attended the L.A. County High School for the Arts and then enrolled at the USC Thornton School of Music. In the midst of his third year at USC, he temporarily relocated to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music. "I knew I was eventually going to move to New York," he says, "so I thought it would be a good idea to experience the city for a year as a student." After returning to L.A. for a year and a half to finish his degree, he moved back to New York