119

Tobias Gebb and Unit 7: free at last

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Tobias Gebb and Unit 7: free at last
Like a bird uncaged, drummer Tobias Gebb expresses himself without restraint on free at last, recorded with Unit 7. The collection is a mix of original songs and covers.

Gebb is a freelance musician on the New York scene. Having appeared on recordings with Lenny Kravitz and Donald Fagen, Gebb has also served as a leader with the piano-bass-drums group Trio West, and a larger ensemble known as Unit 7. For free at last, Unit 7 is actually two groups. Gebb and pianist Eldad Zvulon appear on all tracks. The rest are split between groups of five and six, plus two other musicians who appear on one song each.

As its name implies, "Spitball" is a sassy piece. The horn section of Joe Magnarelli, Joel Frahm, and Chris Huson leads, with Ugonna Okegwo having bass duties. Frahm starts the series of middle solos on tenor sax, followed by Magnarelli on trumpet and Gross on alto saxophone. The band captures the mood of the title, which is a wink at politicians who symbolically throw spitballs at one another.

"Bop De Bop" is a calypso jazz track, featuring Ron Blake on the tenor. Neal Miner handles the bass, and Stacy Dillard plays tenor in the background. After the middle solo, all stops as Gebb exercises his kit without accompaniment.

Going political again, "Free at Last" is both a nod to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and a tribute to President Barack Obama, particularly his performance during the primary and general election campaigns of 2008. This slow, charming piece features Magnarelli, Frahm, Gross, and Okegwo. As before, the horns blend superbly during the song's main theme. The intensity builds during a dramatic sequence in which the saxophones and trumpet weave the three-note theme with some ad-libs.

Neel Murgai joins the ensemble, playing sitar on a cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." Frahm, Gross, and Okegwo are featured. Zvulun contributes a brief solo, but it's mostly Murgai and the saxophones that carry this piece.

Despite being the leader of this band, and composer of five of the eight songs, Gebb is mostly content to be a role player. The saxophones lead most of the way, but every track has the feel of a solid unit.

Track Listing

Blues for Drazen; My Love; Spitball; You Don't Know What Love Is; Bop Be Dop; Free At Last; Softly as in a Morning Contemplation; Tomorrow Never Knows.

Personnel

Tobias Gebb: drums; Bobby Watson: alto saxophone (1, 4, 7); Joe Magnarelli: trumpet (2, 3, 6); Ron Blake: tenor saxophone (5); Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone (2, 3, 6, 8); Stacy Dillard: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7); Mark Gross: alto saxophone (2, 3, 6, 8); Ugonna Okegwo: acoustic bass (2, 3, 6, 8); Neal Miner: acoustic bass (1, 4, 5, 7); Neel Murgai: sitar (8); Eldad Zvulun: piano.

Album information

Title: free at last | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Yummyhouse Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins
Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Peace
Spirit Fingers

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.