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Songs From My Father

Songs From My Father

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"Songs From My Father" is the much-anticipated new album from renowned musical polymath Gerry Gibbs. On his thirteenth release as a leader, drummer-percussionist-bandleader-arranger Gibbs presents a smashing double-disc masterwork featuring four iterations of his acclaimed Thrasher Dream Trio. Under his astute direction, Gibbs and his band of jazz titans pay homage to the musical legacy of Gerry's 96-year-old father, Terry Gibbs. To honor Terry, one of the last living architects of bebop and innovators of the vibraphone, Gerry selected 18 tunes from his father’s vast discography and interpreted the timeless material through his own refined compositional lens with inventive, modern arrangements. In the throes of a global pandemic, Gibbs then went on a nationwide trek to capture recordings of himself alongside a long list of his friends and collaborators – the finest improvisors of our time. Notably, "Songs From My Father" features the last recorded performance of the great Chick Corea, and includes one of Chick's tunes composed specifically for this project. With Gibbs in the drum chair, his Thrasher Dream Trios include Chick Corea and Ron Carter, Kenny Barron and Buster Williams, Patrice Rushen and Larry Goldings, and Geoff Keezer and Christian McBride. With this monumental new recording, Gerry Gibbs cements his standing as one of the most creative and forward-thinking musicians on the contemporary jazz scene.

REVIEWS:

Vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, 97 and finally retired from playing after eight decades, embodies all the fun of the era that created him. Whether as a member of Woody Herman’s historic Second Herd of the late ’40s or leader of the all-star Dream Band, a Hollywood happening from 1959-1962, Gibbs was a blast of high energy and cool showmanship.

His son, Gerry Gibbs, is an imaginative drummer/ percussionist whose albums include an acoustic salute to Weather Report and an orchestral portrait of Miles Davis’ fusion phase. Songs from My Father shines a light on his dad’s overlooked gifts as a composer of some of the catchiest tunes in jazz. This double CD is a candy box of toe-tapping grooves, hummable heads, and enough surprises to keep the listener constantly engaged.

Four trios, assembled by and featuring Gerry, give this music a regal showcase. In his last recordings, Chick Corea is heard with Ron Carter; their version of “Bopstacle Course,” written in 1974, sounds like some forgotten gem from the age of Bud Powell. The agile pianist Geoff Keezer meets his match in bassist Christian McBride; on “Nutty Notes” they become Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales on a race to the finish line. Larry Goldings, playing Hammond B-3, joins pianist Patrice Rushen on the album’s funkiest tracks; they also intertwine elegantly on “Pretty Blue Eyes,” a lilting waltz. “T&S,” a chaser from 1949, finds Kenny Barron and Buster Williams reading each other’s minds with the clairvoyance of two soulmates.

Gerry adapts gracefully to every style—West Coast cool, manic bop, samba—and always swings. On “Hey Chick,” played by all four units, Terry appears in a solo flown in from 1961; it’s a reminder of where the younger Gibbs got his flair.

-- JazzTimes (James Gavin)

Gerry Gibbs amassed almost a who’s who of living jazz greats for this album. There’s nothing particularly fancy about most of this music, being pretty much straightahead jazz-blue funk music, set in regular tonal keys and without much in the way of thematic variance, but with these lineups, who cares?

But of course, “nothing fancy” doesn’t mean the kind of soporific, brain-dead, drippy music that all too often passes for “jazz” nowadays. Terry Gibbs was a product of the Swing Era—in fact, he was the guy who replaced Red Norvo (who had replaced Lionel Hampton) in the Benny Goodman Sextet—and he only went on to bigger and better things over the following decades.

Perhaps the most difficult and complex piece on the album is Nutty Notes, moto perpetuo taken at an absolutely manic pace, played to perfection by Geoffrey Keezer. What a tour-de-force! I was actually a little surprised that bassist McBride could keep up with him at this tempo. By contrast to Nutty Notes, Take it From Me is played at what used to be called a “walking tempo,” medium fast and relaxed, by Barron and Williams. In fact, when listening to the whole album, it struck me that Gerry Gibbs very generously allowed his star soloists to take center stage on each track, always with good results.

Not to be outdone by Corea, Keezer also throws some Latin rhythm into the opening strain of The Fat Man, switching to a straight 4 for the middle section—and, surprise of surprises, featuring a bowed bass solo by McBride! Lonely Days is a soft ballad, but provides a nice contrast to all the uptempo numbers which precede and follow it. I particularly liked Hey Chick, in which Barron plays an absolutely mind-boggling passage. Nonagenarian Terry Gibbs, and all the gang, play on this track.

CD 2 opens with the fast-and-funky Townhouse 3, which has Rushen showing off her bop chops, followed by a quasi-comical solo by Golding playing squeaked little notes in the organ’s high range before embarking on a more conventional (but excellent) solo. T and S is an uptempo romp by Barron and Williams. Yet so much of this album kicks butt that it’s hard to keep singling out individual tracks.

What a great shot in the arm (pun intended) this is in our Covid-weary times. Well worth having, and playing often!

-- The Art Music Lounge (Lynn René Bayley)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 2
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Whaling City Sound
    • UPC/Barcode: 687606013124
    • Item Number: WCS131