Guitarist Grant Geissman is a leading jazz, fusion, and instrumental pop musician who first came to the public's attention in the 1970s as a member of flügelhornist Chuck Mangione's band.
Born in Berkeley, California in 1953, Geissman grew up in the San Jose area, where he became interested in music at a young age, listening to a diverse range of artists from surf bands to the Beatles, Cream, Wes Montgomery, and B.B. King. As an adolescent, he began studying guitar and learning jazz standards, eventually exploring the work of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. After graduating high school, Geissman enrolled in the music program at De Anza Junior College, where he studied under Dr. Herb Patnoe. Patnoe was also in charge of Stan Kenton's famed jazz clinics and invited Geissman to teach guitar at the summer clinics. This early encouragement inspired Geissman to make a 1973 move to Los Angeles, where he spent a semester at Cal State Fullerton before transferring to Cal State Northridge as a classical guitar major. While there, he quickly immersed himself in the Hollywood jazz scene, nabbing gigs with such luminaries as Gerald Wilson, Louie Bellson, Tony Rizzi, and others.
In 1976, a friend recommended Geissman for a gig playing with bandleader and flügelhornist Chuck Mangione. The gig stuck and Geissman was on board for the recording of Mangione's breakout 1977 album, Feels So Good, which included a solo from the guitarist on the title track. A massively successful album, Feels So Good reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the easy listening chart, and earned a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. On the heels of this success, Geissman continued to tour and record with Mangione, appearing on such albums as Children of Sanchez, Fun and Games, and An Evening of Magic, Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
As solo artist, Geissman debuted in 1978 with Good Stuff on Concord. A deft combination of jazz, funk, blues, and pop, it fit nicely into the burgeoning smooth jazz movement and helped solidify Geissman's place as an in-demand performer in the Los Angeles studio scene. Subsequently, he appeared on a handful of albums by such artists as Gordon Goodwin, Mark Winkler, David Benoit, Keiko Matsui, and others. The guitarist returned to his solo work in 1983 with Put Away Childish Toys, followed by Drinkin' from the Money River in 1986. Several more well-received albums followed, including 1987's Snapshots, 1988's All My Tomorrows, and 1989's Take Another Look.
During the '90s, Geissman continued his run of delivering highly regarded crossover jazz efforts, including 1990's Flying Colors, 1992's Time Will Tell, 1993's Rustic Technology, and 1998's In with the Out Crowd. He also made numerous studio dates during this period, appearing on albums by Rodney Friend, Sam Riney, Peter Allen, Sheila E., Diane Schuur, Miki Howard, Quincy Jones, Van Dyke Parks, and many more. Along with his continued work as a session player, Geissman began working in the film and television industry, contributing to soundtracks for Dawson's Creek, Boy Meets World, Monk, and others. In 2004, he earned an Emmy nomination for co-writing and recording the theme to the sitcom Two and a Half Men.
In 2000, Geissman reunited with Mangione for Everything for Love. He then returned to his own work with 2006's Say That!, followed by Cool Man Cool in 2009. In 2012, he delivered his 15th studio effort, Bop! Bang! Boom! A year later, he joined Lorraine Feather for Attachments, and in 2016 backed Manhattan Transfer vocalist Cheryl Bentyne on her Lost Love Songs album. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi