The past decades have been good to Jerry Granelli.
Jazz Times magazine calls Granelli “one of those uncategorizable veteran percussionists who's done it all.” A Canadian citizen since 1999, Granelli burns with an intensity fuelled by a passion for “the pursuit of the spirit of spontaneity which drives the player.” A veteran of the West Coast jazz scene, Granelli's recent flourish of recordings has documented remarkable collaborations between the generations.
Jerry Granelli's story is one that follows the evolution of the West Coast jazz scene. Born in 1940 in San Francisco, the boy recognized his passion in 1948 when he spent a day with Gene Krupa. Hanging out during the 50s in San Francisco nightclubs like the Blackhawk and Jimbo’s Bop City, soaking in the sounds of Ellington, Miles, Max Roach and Monk, his passion grew, eventually leading him to Dave Brubeck drummer Joe Morello. After two years as Morello's star pupil, Granelli became a highly sought-after session player, eventually playing, recording and touring with the Vince Guaraldi Band. He provides the unmistakable steady swing beats for the classic Charlie Brown “Peanuts” theme song.
In the volatile West Coast scene of the 60s, Granelli moved on to the Denny Zeitlin Trio, a group that included bassist Charlie Haden. A hugely successful recording and touring band, they tied with Miles Davis for Group of the Year in Downbeat magazine's Critics and Readers Poll in 1965. Throughout the 60s he performed with many major players on the scene, including Jimmy Witherspoon, Mose Allison, Lou Rawls, John Handy, Sonny Stitt, Sly Stone, Ornette Coleman and Dewey Redman. He was right there too as the West Coast focus shifted from cool jazz styles to the beginnings of psychedelia. His free-form improvisational trio held down the opening slot for comedian Lenny Bruce for three months in 1963, and shared bills at The Matrix and The Fillmore with Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead, also accompanying the Dead on their first European tour in 1971.