345

Melvin Gibbs Elevated Entity: Ancients Speak

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Melvin Gibbs Elevated Entity: Ancients Speak Bassist Melvin Gibbs is a multi-talented and pivotal figure on New York City's downtown scene. On Ancients Speak, co-produced by renegade guitarist and experimental composer Arto Lindsay, Gibbs mixes a potpourri of African vocals, hip hop, Latin grooves, rap, and tribal chants, along with divergent stylizations that transform into a distinct entity.

Ancients Speak helps launch a new label, LiveWired Music, with a curious polytonal gumbo—yet Gibbs remains a merchant of good cheer throughout, providing a fluid undercurrent with his prominent bass licks. Featuring ex-Miles Davis group guitarist Pete Cosey, the program exudes a vibrant world-music vibe, steeped in melodic keys and guitar parts, occasionally adorned with spacey effects treatments.

Gibbs' fluid and lyrically resplendent solo playing, exemplified on "Sometimes," displays his melodic gifts and enviable technique. But Ancients Speak also transmits a group-centric vibe with alternating lineups and worldly fusions of sound in a genre-busting gala—without being over-baked or pompous. Enamored by Cosey's blitzing and distortion riffs atop the percussionist's thrusting pulses, the program is also spiced with ethereal overtones and pumping backbeats.

"Mojiba" conveys a nouveau African rock-pop aura, partly due to the punchy horns and Amayo's vocals, while John Medeski generates a mystical element with his layered electric keys. At the same time, Gibbs spawns a lofty degree of coolness within a grand schema underscored by an all-encompassing world-beat sound.

The album presents a study in colorific and rhythmic contrasts. On "Os Aguas/The Waters," keyboardist Craig Taborn lays out a dark synth swash to smooth out the buoyant percussion metrics, while Cosey's liquefying sitar-guitar phrasings cast an Eastern modality that encircles the dream-state themes.

Gibbs integrates the best of many musical worlds here. Where others fail in these situations, he turns an array of propositions into a cheery and expertly produced stream of ideas that touch numerous musical fronts. Understanding Gibbs' muse is akin to deciphering an ancient mythology. However, he eliminates the cerebral connotations by keeping up a festive tone along the way.


Track Listing: Ancients Speak; Sometimes; Canto Por Odudua; Represent Do Rio; Mojuba; Sun Of Shango; Eu Cant En Yoruba; Macumba; Summer Breeze; Os Aguas/The Waters.

Personnel: Melvin Gibbs: bass, keyboards, programming; Craig Tabor: keyboards, John Medeski: keyboards; Mark Batson: keyboards; James Hurt: keyboards; Pete Cosey: guitar; Blackbyrd McKnight: guitar; Afoxe Filhos do Korin Efan: vocals; Pedrito Martinez: vocals; Amayo, Totonho: vocals; Felix Sanabria: percussion; Abdou Mboup: percussion; Afoxe Filhos do Korin Efan: percussion; Cortejo Afro: percussion; Terreon Gully: drums; JT Lewis: drums; Chason Walker; rap; Ruben: rap; B-Negao: rap; Ron Blake: horns; Casey Benjamin; horns; Graham Haynes: horns; Micah Gaugh: horns.

Title: Ancients Speak | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: LiveWired Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Oaktree" CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "What Do I Miss" CD/LP/Track Review What Do I Miss
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Twin Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Twin Talk
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.