Words like "funky" and "groovy" are often bandied about by musicians, reviewers and fans alike. Once upon a time they represented the heights of popular musical achievement; today, they're a little anachronistic, their use more ironic than laudatory. Then something comes along that epitomizes both terms, and reclaims them as badges of honor. Trombonist David Gibson's End Of The Tunnel is such a recording, a quartet album of music that reminds the jazz world just how great funky and groovy music can be.
This is a straight-ahead album, no doubt. But it's straight-ahead with enough twists and turns to ensure a freshness and vibrancy to the music. Partly, this is due to most of the tunes being originals: five from Gibson and two from organist Jared Gold. But it's also due to the musicians' performances, which sparkle with life and invention rather than merely reproducing the styles and ideas of others.
The interplay between these four musicians is superbinnovative, swinging, fun. On "Wasabi," for example, the quartet weaves up-tempo patterns in and out of each others' lines with ease. When things slow down, the players are just as adept at creating evocative musical moods. "Sunday Morning" is underpinned by Gold and drummer Quincy Davis' relaxed but slinky rhythms, while Gold's "Splat" and "Preachin,'" are both fairly gentle, mid-tempo, shuffles. Gibson's "The In-Whim" is the standout tune, with some jerky, jagged rhythm playing from Gold and Davis, and intriguing unison passages from the trombonist and alto saxophonist Julius Tolentino.
The originals are bookended by Herbie Hancock's "Blind Man, Blind Man"Gold and Davis providing a seriously cool grooveand Jackie McLean's "Blue Rondo," with Tolentino and Gibson trading phrases over Gold's stabbing organ chords and Davis' driving percussion. The choice is well-made, a reminder of the music that inspires and inhabits both Gibson and Gold's writing. But it's the original compositions that add a real spark of innovation and good-time grooves to End Of The Tunnel.
Blind Man, Blind Man; Wasabi; Sunday Morning; End of the Tunnel; A
Place of Our Own; Splat!; The In-Whim; Preachin'; Blue Rondo.
David Gibson: trombone; Julius Tolentino: alto saxophone; Jared Gold:
organ; Quincy Davis: drums.