Brimming with musical influences as diverse as the exotic places
he’s called home, Jim Gelcer hit the North American scene at age
eighteen and has not looked back. He was seduced by the township
energies of his father’s South African home, drawn by his mother’s
Middle Eastern mysticism and came to that table with more than a
dollop of his own brand of jazz, funk and soul. The result is a heady
amalgam of old world devotion and new age syncopation, music for
the 21st century.
Gelcer is a multi-instrumentalist and singer, an in-demand
collaborator who’s performed and recorded with other artists at
the top of their game, people like Paul Hoffert, John Switzer and
Richard Underhill, to name a few. Gelcer rocks on piano, guitar,
harmonium and vocals but his musical through line has always been
percussion. And as a timekeeper, Gelcer is second to none on djembe,
cajon, dumbek or a standard drum kit.
Gelcer patented his unique sound and sensibility early on. As a child,
he used any kitchen utensil he could get his hands on to drum the
beats he couldn’t get out of his head and onto a surface fast enough.
The rhythms were informed by the sights, sounds and smells he
picked up living in 1960’s South Africa. A space where indigenous
music had pride of place among soul singers like Bill Withers and
jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.
Hitting his formative years in 1970’s Canada, Gelcer was now paying
passionate attention to pop soul radio. Early influences began to add
up, helping lay the groundwork for the artist Gelcer was to become –
global in style, popular in nature, fat and funky in tone – laced with
references to pop and soul giants like Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison,
The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. The table was being set for a new
brand of musical continentalism. International tour dates with a wide
variety of bands and artists in a suite of musical genres followed.
In the 80’s, Gelcer launched another career, this time as a composer
for film and television, working prolifically for the CBC’s arts and
current affairs portals, scoring jingles and soundtracks for television
MOW’s. He is now a partner in Gopher Lunch, an international
company specializing in music for tv and movies.
Gelcer’s early exposure to earthy African grooves and Middle Eastern
spirituality drew him to Kirtan, a powerful style of devotional music
involving call and response mantra chanting, fostered during an
intensive period spent on a Paradise Island ashram. There, Gelcer
learned the ancient teachings of Sivananda Yoga. His practice and
Kirtan concerts continue to this day.
Gelcer’s new album is only the last in a line of notable releases the
artist has produced in the jazz, pop and Kirtan genres. Future tour
dates include stops in Los Angeles, Bali and Australia. Ain’t no
stopping him now.