Swingin' & Groovin' Harder Than Ever!
My musical journey began by performing, composing and recording R&B songs with local artists and bands. Armed with that experience and formal training, I decided to pursue my first love ... JAZZ!
In the Pursuit of Jazz
Along the way, numerous referrals led me to one of the most renowned musicians, educators and mentors in the jazz world. Among them was Sam Sanders. Under him, I took on the challenge of improvisation. After many hours of rehearsals, repetition and concentration, I began to compose music that complemented my newly developed style.
Classic Jazz, yes that American art form that was born in New Orleans and nurtured in several great cities in the country, yes, that jazz ... it's what "GEQ" Guymon Ensley Quintet 'swings' with. I formed my band was formed in 2001 and was soon earning rave reviews in 2002 at the renowned Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit.
First Album & More Performances
GEQ continued to enjoy success with the release of our first album, Here Put This On in 2003, which was re-released in 2009 with two bonus tracks added. With the album gaining hype, the band and I continued performing at the most of the prestigious venues in Michigan. In the summer of 2016, we completed our ninth tour to the Hawaiian and Caribbean Islands.
GEQ's performance repertoire includes many of my own original songs. I write numbers that emphasize the strengths of my band's players, making the music sound complex despite being relatively easy to perform. The ideas come pretty easy when it comes to these gentlemen and ladies because each of these phenomenal musicians can take a lead sheet and read it down quickly and put their own incredible spin on it. I've been known to spring a brand new chart on them right on the band stand too!
Even though GEQ is known for the original compositions, I like to play arrangements of the standards. A rock beat at the beginning of the Theolonious Monk's "Well You Needn't" ... a piano interlude right in the middle of Miles Davis' "Milestones," or a latin style rhythm on Charlie Parker's "Ornithology."
My band and I have been respectfully compared to the likes of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers as well as the ensembles of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. In 2006 and 2007, GEQ was nominated for Outstanding Modern Jazz Group at the Detroit Music Awards, furthermore, I was nominated for the Outstanding Jazz Composer category.
2019 proved to be an 'awarding' year for GEQ. The single release "Nobody Knows I'm Here," led GEQ to the BEST JAZZ RECORDING Award during the "Clouzine International Music Awards" in the spring. Later in the year, the recording drove GEQ to a BEST JAZZ SONG win during the "Akademia Music Awards." That win led to the band's NOMINATION for Artist of the Year and Artist Vision Award. The band proudly took home the ARTIST VISION AWARD and continues to "Swing and Groove harder than ever!"
Also in 2006, I released my first solo EP, titled Meet Guymon Ensley. It contained three original songs, along with an intriguing arrangement of Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands." The contemporary jazz works was my first outside of the classic jazz genre. Three more albums and six more singles followed the solo project.
On January 4, 2019, "Meditative Grooves" was released. The album received a SILVER MEDAL during the 2019 "Global Music Award" in the New-age category. The tracks are coveted with jazz, R&B and baroque influences . . . harmonies, melodies and rhythms of the music is intended to create artistic inspiration and relaxation . . . a sit down to "hear and absorb it” collection of songs.