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Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio: We're Back

Dan McClenaghan By

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Drummer Gerry Gibbs must be in a "strike while the iron is hot" mode. Less than a year after his very successful Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio (Whaling City Sound, 2013), featuring Ron Carter on bass and Kenny Barron on piano, he has reconvened with those jazz legends for a second go around. This time, with We're Back, the trio moves away from the jazz standard format and goes after some of the classic R& B hits from the 60s and 70s.

If that sounds like a good time, it is. Jazz can take itself too seriously, but with the likes of Stevie Wonder's "Too High," Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On ," Earth, Wind and Fire's "Mighty Mighty," and The Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces," a good time—from these guys—is guaranteed. The tunes are familiar to anyone who came up listening to Top 40 radio in those days, and they have the staying power of classics, appealing to a younger generation with an ear for classic sounds, making We're Back a "kick back and relax and soak your ears in great melodies and cool grooves" type of experience. The fact that they're laid down with an inspired, top level jazz feeling and skill level is the bonus.

Another big difference here is the inclusion of some top flight guests: Vibraphonist Warren Wolf, organist Larry Goldings and saxophonist Steve Wilson. Goldings adds a cool funk to the group's up-tempo take on "What's Goin' On," working alongside the buoyant pop of Warren Wolf's bright vibraphone. The pair also team up on strutting take on Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour." Steve Wilson's alto sax—tart and tight—gets chased around the studio by Barron's exquisite piano on Earth, Wind and Fire's "Might Mighty," while Carter and Gibbs lay down a deep groove, and they do it again on the same group's "Fantasy."

The CD, which starts out on a high note with Stevie Wonder's "To High," keeps getting better as it rolls along. Hal David and Burt Bacharach's "I Say a Little Prayer," a smooth pop hit for Dionne Warwick, and a deep soul anthem from Aretha Franklin, a gets a taste of elegance here from the trio, especially from the ever-inventive Barron; and "Pick Up the Pieces," a huge radio hit for the Average White Band, features, again, the trio showing how to rip it up at a white hot pace.

They close it with the sole non-R & B tune, a forty-four second "beatbox" version of Miles Davis "Theme."

Excellent!

Track Listing: Too High; What's Going On; Where Is The Love; Reasons; Mighty Mighty; Betcha By Golly Wow; My Cherie Amour; Creepin'; Fantasy; Living For The City/Overjoyed; Brazilian Rhyme; Runnin'; I Say A Little Prayer; Pick Up the Pieces; Theme.

Personnel: Gerry Gibbs: drums; Ron Carter: bass; Kenny Barron: piano; Warren Wolf: vibraphone (2, 6, 7, 11, 12); Larry Goldings: Hammond B-3 organ (2, 7); Steve Wilson: alto saxophyone (5, 9).

Title: We're Back | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound

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