Gilman’s just the Jazz Gorilla next door

It’s a good thing 58-year-old Dean Gilman is close to retiring from this silly lab manager job at the Valero Refinery in Benicia. There’s rock ‘n roll to play.

But first, there’s a couple of choral groups. and several off-shoots of his jazz trio. and don’t forget that recording company, Alchemist Productions.

And, oh yeah, he’s married to Nancy Gilman, another vocalist.

Not enough time in the day? of course not. No big deal, he said.

“I learned a few years ago I have the capability of multitasking,” Gilman said grinning.

When it comes to his instrumental efforts, Gilman is bass player to Barbara Hamm’s piano and Shelby Riddle on keyboard for several incarnations, including Jazz Gorilla, which tries to secure as many gigs as possible for shut-ins who can’t get out for entertainment. Next up is 7 p.m. gig today in “A Home-Made Christmas” a concert at the Benicia Community Congregational Church, a Dec. 20 gig at Merrill Gardens in Vallejo, and Dec. 21 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Benicia.

Gilman is lead vocalist for Jazz Gorilla. and he also sings in the choir at the Community Congregation Church in Benicia with the three met. It’s there where Nancy Gilman had set music down for a choir rehearsal, caught the song title “Jazz Gloria” from an angle and thought it was “Jazz Gorilla.”

Her husband corrected, but pocketed the name or future reference.

“I thought it was a heckuva name for a band,” said Gilman. “So I stored it away.”

A few years ago, the concept of doing their own versions of old-school jazz tunes came up. and the name was put to good use.

“And we took the show on the road,” Gilman said. “The name does catch people’s attention, which is a feature you want in a band name.”

Yes, when it comes to the three, he’s the one who looks closest to a gorilla, he said.

“As the other two are ladies, it’s definitely me,” Gilman laughed.

Before the Merrill Gardens gig, Gilman sings Sunday with the Vallejo Choral Society at the first Presbyterian Church in Vallejo.

If his day job and Vallejo choral gigs and Jazz Gorilla isn’t enough, Gilman sings with a high-level choral group in Oakland. and – whew! — joins Hamm and Riddle with the San Francisco Scottish


Gorilla, he said, “is about community service. It’s 1940s, ’50s swing and some 1950s pop. Older music that is well-known by the people at these retirement communities. It’s a worthwhile thing to go out and entertain at these places, with a lot of these people homebound. we get to bring our show to them. It’s a good match given the style of music we play is something they’re familiar with.”

The Dec. 20 performance is a Christmas show, Gilman said, “put to our own style of jazz arrangement.”

The trio wears another hat, playing France-based Taizé, a more meditative genre which they perform in church.

It’s a lot of time together for the three musicians, which is a good thing, Gilman said.

“Musicians who play together get to be familiar with each other’s style,” he said. “You know what the person is going to be doing next and can follow along.”

With a lot of jazz improvised, “over time, knowing what each other’s character and style are, you learn what they’re going to do next,” said Gilman, whose thoughts were far from jazz in the late 1960s when he played some hearty rock ‘n roll.

But, real-life beckoned, and he landed a job with Exxon before he moved and took the same position with the oil company in new Jersey. After 18 years, he moved West, securing his position at Exxon Benicia in 1998 and, in 2000, when the refinery sold to Valero.

Yes, said Gilman, his oil company colleagues knows about his music.

“They’re familiar with what I do outside the lab,” he said chuckling. “It becomes painfully obvious when, once in a while during breaks, I close the office door and put the music in on the computer. I’m sure they’re going, ‘There he goes again.’ “,2005:cluster=, 10 Dec 2010 13:25:10 GMT 00:00“>Gilman’s just the Jazz Gorilla next door

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