GHT: This Is What You Get

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In the beginning there was a giant squid, a condor and a killer theme song…

then came GHT.

Somewhere in Toronto, the highly guarded script for the greatest movie never made was born, with pirates, a one armed football player, evil Nazis, and epic battles between good and evil.  Long time friends and collaborators, Johnny Griffith and Nathan Hiltz, spent late night post gig hours creating characters and worlds like the ones they had lost themselves in as kids. From this an exciting and unexpected partnership began. This quest for adventure flooded into jam sessions and led them to redefine musical doubling. Incorporating an old pair of bass pedals found gathering dust in the Griffith’s basement, Nathan’s long limbs sprang into action exposing his graceful side as Johnny armed himself with every horn in his arsenal, sometimes simultaneously, proving there were no limits to their imagination or co-ordination. Along came Sly Juhas to complete the trio and round out the groove with his unique, signature style. GHT doesn’t just write and play great tunes, they are true performers throwing their whole selves into the action and need to be seen to be believed.

“The Griffith Hiltz Trio are gifted composers and musicians. The tunes are musical and though reverential, are a fresh take on a vintage art form.  from Nathan’s unbelievable skill as both the guitarist and bass player, to Johnny’s melodicism and warm, classic tone these guys are making great, modern classic jazz music!” Hawksley Workman

Searching out a producer was a unanimous decision and one that would shape the sound and feel of the entire project. The music of Canadian indie hero, Hawksley Workman, had accompanied GHT on many tours and long drives across the country. His eclectic sensibilities seemed a natural fit for this departure from the mainstream. He quickly suggested recording live to tape, creating a darker, warmer sound. Fueled by popsicles and good wine this album was clearly going to be something different. Recording to tape meant sacrificing the ability to edit, their focus on being overly technically accurate went out the window in favour of Hawksley’s insistence on letting the overall feel of the songs speak for them self. The result is immediate, removing the sterile sounds of the studio placing the listener in the room with the band.

Right off the top of the album comes the raunchy rock n’ roll riffs of “Straw man”, Johnny channels a Joe Henderson-esque solo as Nathan dazzles with what may be the first Bebop Banjotar solo recorded. We move into one of the most experimental tracks on the album drawing influences from Black Sabbath and Webern. The 12 tone serial based composition, “Kuleshascope” takes its name from composer Gary Kulesha. “For Otis” is a warm and classic R&B tribute to Otis Redding which features Hiltz on guitar, while “MGM” and “Port Hillford” bring us some bright GHT modern jazz in 5/4 time, the kind the guys are known for. In a nod to the tradition, a post-bop early Ornette Coleman inspired sound shines through in “Steppin’ Out”, while “Bone Arm”, a modern grooved based take on modal composition is reminiscent of Miles Davis’ “Joshua”. The catchiest pop-style tune is title track “This is What You Get”, with a melody that will stick with you long after it’s over. But in the end, GHT sends us floating away on a lily pad with their beautiful and haunting rendition of “Rainbow Connection”.

So dim the lights and kick back with a pint, or clear a dance floor – from beginning to end this is a head-banging, soft-shoeing, hippy-tripping, pelvic-grinding, soul-soothing, make out session of sweet sounds.

Nothing about GHT is ordinary.   What you’ll get is, well…

This is What You Get…