Geibral Elisha on Spontaneity as a Secret Weapon

Geibral Elisha enjoying the natural sounds of piano.
Geibral Elisha enjoying the natural sounds of piano. Elaine Thomas Campbell
Geibral Elisha is the keyboardist and composer for The Geibral Elisha Movement. But he's more than just a musician.

Elisha's a true progressive jazz player, constantly pushing the boundaries of music theory and reality with his music. He's also a historical researcher, recently releasing essays on his website.

Elisha, pronounced "e-lie-sha," is a native Phoenician who grew up in the Valley. Neither of his parents are musicians. However, they saw his desire to play from a very early age and made sure to nurture that talent. He has pictures of himself sitting at a baby drum set in a onesie from his beginning toddler years.

However, drums weren't Geibral's calling. At age 9, he expressed interest in piano. Back then, he started on lessons, but only for a brief stint to get a handle on the basics. The jazz keyboardist credits metro Phoenix radio station KJZZ for his unique connection with the art form, as he would listen to jazz on the radio, really focusing on the piano parts he would hear.

For Elisha, piano was a long road. As a teenager, music was kind of on the back burner. He still could play, and knew some contemporary pieces by artists like Usher from the '90s, but he hadn't developed his jazz chops just quite yet.
Flash forward to age 21, and Geibral was given a burlap bag full of old-school Blue Note Records, and from there he truly found his love for jazz and improvisation. He then formed a jazz trio for private events and eventually from those spawnings, The Geibral Elisha Movement was founded in 2016.

Elisha, and the Movement, will be performing on First Friday February 2, at Crescent Ballroom for The Stakes' five-year anniversary. With the show coming up, New Times was able to squeeze in some words with Geibral about his gear, improvisational jazz, and the band's upcoming show.

click to enlarge Geibral's live workstation. - GEIBRAL ELISHA
Geibral's live workstation.
Geibral Elisha
New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Geibral Elisha: Honestly, I think the signature tone or secret weapon is spontaneity. I’ve become comfortable with knowing anything goes, and atonality is my best friend.

What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
My favorite piece of gear is my Roland Fantom G8. When they first came out, I made a whole pitch to my dad that it would change my life. He purchased it for me and I made my first album on it, The Music Before.

Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
I’m actually a simple man in terms of gear. I recently downloaded Mainstage 3 on my Macbook, and I have been using it for the past few shows. But I’d have to say my Roland FA-08. I bought it in London [during the] summer of 2015. I had it shipped back to the states in a soft case wrapped in bubble wrap. It made it back safely, surprisingly.

Just listened to “Where the Wild Things Are” off of your album Live at The Listening Room. Great track. Loved the ambience and musical journey GEM takes the listener on.You said that all of your music in GEM is mainly improvisation. Can you talk about your process for building these songs live as a group?
Thanks brother, that means a lot, and we are humbled. The process is more or less them just being great musicians. We really practice live and that’s hard to believe for people. The live album we did at The Listening Room Phoenix was a live rehearsal. It makes it authentic to me.

The first time we played the song as a group was when we met up with Micah Dailey to record "Rosa Blanca Vol. 2." The guys had never heard the song before because it was a new concept I had been hearing in my head. I explained a rhythm pattern to Teron. Then I explained the wailing, almost elephant-like, sound to David for the sax. Then Micah pressed record. It turned out pretty good and as we continued to play around town, we would collectively tweak it.

The Geibral Elisha Movement is performing this Friday at Crescent Ballroom for The Stakes five-year anniversary. Any words you wish to share with fans about your show?
We are truly thankful that we are able to celebrate with a great band like The Stakes. We have three albums out that are all available on major online services, and we hope you check them out if you haven't. Thanks for being with us on the journey.

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Henri Benard
Contact: Henri Benard