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Melvin Gibbs

Melvin Gibbs has been called "the best bassist in the world" by Time Out New York magazine. A well- respected veteran of the New York music scene, he has contributed his singular talents to major artists in many diverse genres of music, appearing on close to 200 albums.

Born in Brooklyn N.Y. his first musical studies were on the congas and Latin percussion, focused on the Afro-Diasporatic rhythms of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Brazil. He studied with Papo Dadiego, later to become known as the maker of Jopa Percussion instruments, who was his next-door neighbor.

After deciding to switch to bass he studied acoustic bass at The Muse is Brooklyn under former John Coltrane bassist Reggie Workman and electric bass privately with Vic Collucci. The first band he joined featured the late Alphonia Tims (Future Funk Now!, ROIR) on guitar, who would later become a formative influence in his musical life. A few months later at a practice room in Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn he would meet another guitarist and kindred spirit, Vernon Reid. He soon joined "Point of View" a jazz-rock fusion band led by Reid as well as continuing to work as bassist-songwriter for a Brooklyn based production company specializing in funk and r&b.

He also freelanced extensively on the local N.Y. music scene with an emphasis on gaining as much hands on experience playing as many different types of music as possible. He placed a particular effort into gaining a strong working knowledge of all the musics of the peoples of the African Diaspora living in N.Y. concentrating first of Caribbean musics such as salsa, reggae, soca/calypso and compas then moving on to Brazilian musics and afro-beat than eventually later on African styles such as mbalax, and chimurunga. He also worked "uptown" in the Harlem jazz clubs playing with Dr. Lonnie Smith and others as well as the alternative "loft jazz" concert scene.

He first came to public notice as a member of the groups Defunkt and the Decoding Society who were mainstays of the in the early '80's downtown N.Y. scene.
(side note- Melvin was also the bassist for the Contortions/ James White and the Blacks/ Flaming Demonics and appears in the video of the Contortions show which features Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie) where he worked alongside his neighborhood pal Vernon Reid. He also re-connected musically with Alphonia Tims, had who become the protégé of Ornette Coleman and later became the protégé of the late Gil Evans, allowing Melvin the opportunity to be mentored by both of these jazz greats. He also worked with artists such as the seminal guitarist Sonny Sharrock, saxophonist/ composer John Zorn and avant-pop group the Ambitious Lovers.

A series of songwriting sessions with Andrew Hindes, keyboard player for the Waitresses, led to Melvin forming a rock band, Eye and I, with singer D.K. Dyson. A few months later the "B.R.C."—Black Rock Coalition - was formed. Melvin became a founding member of the B.R.C. and Eye and I became one of the original "B.R.C." bands.

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Primary Instrument

Bass, electric

Willing to teach

Advanced only

Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Marching Music

Greenleaf Music
2020

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Ancients Speak

LiveWired Music
2009

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