Gerry Gibbs: Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Drummer, composer and bandleader Gerry Gibbs—son of renown vibes player and bandleader Terry Gibbs—grew up playing with musical legends from jazz traditionalists such as Clark Terry and James Moody, to Gary Bartz and Sam Rivers and other more adventurous conceptualists, to Parliament-Funkadelic and other artists who skirt the fringes in between. Gibbs' exceptionally dexterous work with pianists includes time spent in performance with bands led by Cedar Walton, Danilo Pérez 99, Kenny Kirkland and Brad Mehldau. Teamed here with two extraordinary artists, bassist Ron Carter and pianist Kenny Barron, their Thrasher Dream Trio collective name is self-explanatory.

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio presents a huge piece of work, 15 tracks spanning 74 minutes that would consume a double-vinyl album set. These include four new Gibbs originals: Musical portraits of Carter ("Here Comes Ron"), pianists McCoy Tyner ("When I Dream") and Don Pullen ("The Thrasher"), and Gibbs' wife ("The Woman on the Television Screen").

The considerable grasp and reach of this Dream Trio is immediately evident: Three of their first four tracks brilliantly juxtapose compositions by Thelonious Monk, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Johnny Mandel. Gibbs retains Carter's arrangement from a mid-70s recording of "Epistrophy" with Barron and Monk drummer Ben Riley; Barron's improvisation scales different, new heights in this familiar song while Carter and Gibbs seem to delight in trying to tie each other in rhythmic knots. Barron's piano beautifully sings "Promises, Promises," passing Bacharach's winsome melody lightly and expertly through his fingers while Carter and Gibbs weave a dance, almost a waltz, between them. Like "Epistrophy," it subsequently opens to spotlight Carter's strident walking bass, shaded by Gibbs' brushes on snare and Barron's distant, gentle chords. Barron's piano also colors Mandel's timeless "The Shadow of Your Smile" in warm, glowing reds and cool, soft blues.

Later in the set, Gibbs programs two adventurous Herbie Hancock tunes back to back. While Gibbs' playing (especially his cymbals and snare) often suggests a dance or a dancer, he arranges Hancock's frantic "The Eye of the Hurricane" to spotlight his torrid, bone-crunching breaks; the trio moves more somberly through darkness and shadow in "Tell Me a Bedtime Story."

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio is a trio album—not only a piano trio, but a genuine unified ensemble of three equal voices—of exceptional vision, dexterity and energy.

Track Listing: Epistrophy; Promises, Promises; When I Dream; The Shadow of Your Smile; The Woman on the TV Screen; The Eye of the Hurricane; Tell Me a Bedtime Story; A Feeling; Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing; Sunshower; Here Comes Ron; Impressions; The Thrasher; Mr. Clean; The Theme.

Personnel: Gerry Gibbs: drums; Ron Carter: bass; Kenny Barron: piano.

Title: Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound


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