My good friend and mentor presented me with the idea and encouraged me to start my own band.
After months of studying improvisation with saxophone great Sam Sanders, I was anxious to learn more about the music industry. As part of my growth, I found myself making a point to see the performances of other accomplished trumpet players from this area, players like Rayse Biggs, Dwight Adams, John Douglas and of course, Jazz Legend, Marcus Belgrave.
I thought long and hard and decided to follow Charley’s advice. It took several weeks of planning and auditions to come up with the right complement of musicians to create "GEQ" the (Guymon Ensley Quintet). In March of 2002, GEQ hit the stage and to this date, we continue to record and perform. In 2003 we released our first CD “Here Put This On” and one Extended Play CD “Meet Guymon Ensley” along with three single releases. We are currently in the studio working on a contemporary jazz CD that will be available later in the year. Until completion of the new project, you can download single releases from the GEQ Jazz STORE.
Charley and I became acquainted in 1998 when I was hired to teach at his school, the Detroit Drum School, a retail music store and teaching facility. He was a gentle, gentleman who loved teaching. Several of his students went on to be successful teachers, musicians and performers. In 2004 GEQ was honored to perform at the last annual exhibition. However, he was unable to attend because of failing health. He was truly touched by the expressions of love and respect.
In a letter dated, October 4, 2003, Charley congratulated me on the success of the band and it’s first CD. He went on to say in the letter, “Each musician in the band displays top of the line professional talent in the field of music. Keep up the good work and GEQ will become renowned as one of the jazz groups to hear."
Charley has been my inspiration throughout my experience as a musician and bandleader. As I was composing the song “Goodbye Charley” in his honor, I did so, often visualizing him standing and shifting from side side as he often did. Charley Bannister quietly left us on October 7, 2004. He touched the lives of many people. He was loved by his family and friends -- respected and adored by his students. Without Charley, there would be no "GEQ."