It's not often that you find a musician as well-versed and diverse as guitarist Joesf Glaude. Indelibly marked by his first impressions from The Beatles and Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore, Glaude may have first started out in a punk band, but by his senior year of high school was playing in a folk band and continued his musical explorations in bluegrass and folk-rock.
All of this might come as a surprise to some, especially those who email us at UTW on a frequent basis asking why we've overlooked or never cover a fabulous jazz and classical guitarist that they've just discovered, a one Mr. Joesf Glaude. When I mentioned this to Glaude last week, he just chuckled, laughing because although he hasn't been feature in our paper recently, "I've gotten three of four really good write ups from Urban Tulsa..."
In fact, a few years ago, Glaude and frequent collaborator Pete Astor credited UTW for indirectly bringing them together when both were featured with album reviews in the same issue, sparking the two to meet and begin playing together, a partnership that included Astor's inclusion on Glaude's Songs from the Pourhouse CD.
Granted, it has been a busy year for Glaude, releasing two CDs in 2010, beginning with a classical offering with James Ruggles entitled Step Lightly, which garnered a stack of nominations in UTW's ABoT Music Awards, including honors for Best Song for "Pastorale." Only three weeks later, Glaude released the predominantly jazz CD, Sentimental Blue, with guest appearances from a number of friends and peers such as Rod Saunders, Ryan Norton, Sean Al-Jibouri, Justin Kasparek and Steve McDaniel.
Even so, Glaude doesn't make many live appearances in his hometown of Tulsa, in part because of a lack of appropriate venues. He admits it can be a source of frustration, saying that "most venues like to play it safe," knowing that his style and blend of classical, jazz and blues don't really fit into the demographic of most live clubs or bars. On the flip side, playing at a restaurant or small lounge doesn't suit Glaude's style either, as he's more of a composer and performer and, in his own words: "For the most part, the solo artist is the guy playing in the corner at dinner that you ignore."
As a result, the vast majority of Glaude's professional career of performing is spent on the road. Throughout the years, he has developed quite a loyal and avid following along the east coast and out west, specifically in Utah. The reality of the economy and cost of touring often comes into play, however, as the circumstances dictate that he often travel solo and pick up a backing band in the locations he plays. Fortunately, his diverse background and flexibility allow him to improvise and make such arrangements work, although they may sometimes seem incongruous.
This year, Glaude found himself playing classical, harp guitar concerts in Utah, backed by a rock band and making an east-coast run of jazz concerts backed by a southern rock band. Even though it sounds improbable on paper, both scenarios worked for Glaude, as his perspective allows him to keep things in focus.
"Duke Ellington said that music comes in two categories: good and bad," Glaude said.
If that's the case, most people would agree that Glaude's music falls in the former, not the latter category, as witnessed by his multiple nominations in the ABoT Music Awards the past two years and the loyal following he has developed in Tulsa despite the infrequency of local performances.
What intrigues me the most about Glaude is his ability to glide between styles almost seamlessly, recording two albums in different genres at the same time without missing a beat. When I asked about the creative and writing process, I was curious about how he separates the two. Is it a matter of how the music flows, consciously moving from blues or jazz mode to classical, or just letting it all come out then sorting through to find what fits?
"It's more of a filtering process," Glaude said. "When I'm on the road, I might have an idea for a classical piece and write it down on a piece of paper or a napkin and then when I'm driving be thinking of jazz chords for a progression. Sometimes it's just a matter of what I'm listening to at the time."
Regardless of how it comes out, Glaude has successfully found a way to make all the pieces fit, usually working on multiple projects at the same time.
As an example, Glaude is currently working on three projects at once. The first two are Christmas CDs, one classical and another jazz, which should be completed and released next fall.
Yet another, a project that Glaude describes as his "Tulsa jam CD" already has a working title of You Can't Get There From Here. The plan is to build off of some improvisational ideas with other local musicians such as San Al-Jibouri, Steve McDaniel, Marcus Curtis, Rod Saunders, Justin Kasparek and possibly others.
"Any time you ask for directions from anyone in Oklahoma, they always seem to start with 'you can't get there from here, but...'" Glaude said. With that in mind, Glaude's vision is for all of the songs to be reflective of Tulsa, although not specifically about Tulsa.
Even with those projects under development, Glaude still has his sights set further down the road, admitting that he'd also like to do a bluegrass album and reflecting on the fact that "The roots of bluegrass lie in Celtic and Irish music." He also shared that he's been playing more banjo, mandolin and ukulele as of late, even pulling out a ukulele and playfully plucking out The Eagles' "Hotel California" and a brief refrain of Led Zeppelin with a playful grin.
Although Glaude doesn't play in Tulsa on a frequent basis, he will be performing in town three times this week. First up, he will be backing Dan Pirarro at Philbrook Museum on Thursday, Nov. 18, and again at the Elk's Lodge on Nov. 19.
Glaude himself will be the featured musician, however, on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Church of the Resurrection (located at 4804 S. Fulton), for the annual B.U.S. concert. This is a special project for Glaude, who has performed in all 13 years of the annual event, which is a benefit concert for the Day Center for the Homeless. Admission is granted with the donation of new blankets, underwear and socks (thus, the moniker B.U.S.) to be distributed to the men at the day center. Every year, Glaude shares the bill with another artist, and this year's show will include John Hamlin, a guitarist form Kansas who is coming in specifically to participate in the event.
Glaude admits that "This is my pet project, but I'm always interested in finding other musicians who would like to participate as well." As such, this annual event is one of the best opportunities of the year to see Glaude take the spotlight in Tulsa and still use the opportunity to help others. Anyone who has been waiting for the next opportunity to catch Glaude in concert will want to make extra effort to catch this show. The concert begins at 7pm and donations of blankets, men's underwear and socks will be collected at the door.
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