Album: Our People
Street Date: June 7, 2019
Label: Whaling City Sound
World Renowned drummer/composer Gerry Gibbs took some advice from legendary pianist Billy Childs who simply asked Gibbs “Why don’t you make your next album doing whatever you want?” With this ideology in mind, Gibbs recorded an epic, genre-defying masterwork unlike anything the multi-instrumentalist has ever produced before. The result is a magnificent sonic tapestry that pays tribute to our worlds’ many cultures and people over the course of 19 compositions.
Our People sounds like a full orchestra, but is in fact the work of five gifted multi-instrumentalists- two of which are part of Gerry’s versatile Thrasher People Band. Acting as the principal soloist on the album, Alex Collins plays all keyboard parts as well as the marimba, vibes, soprano sax, alto sax, acoustic guitar, accordion, lead vocals, background vocals and percussion. Gianluca Renzi performs all bass parts on this album, additionally he recorded all string parts, background vocals, and miscellaneous percussion. Gerry himself recorded all percussion parts for the album, including drums, conga drums, timpani drums, as well as auxiliary percussion, glockenspiel, electronic soundscapes, keyboards and some vocals. In addition to composing and performing on the album, Gibbs engineered and mixed all of the tracks himself. Rounding out the group are two very special guests: Mayu Saeki, who performs all woodwind parts, vocals and percussion, and Kyeshie Gibbs, who, alongside Mayu and Alex, performs the majority of the vocal parts, and tracks some additional percussion. Between these five artists, a total of 40 instruments can be heard. A true labor of love, Gibbs spent two consecutive 16-hour days composing and arranging all 19 compositions for the 40 different instruments, including an impressive vocal choir.
Our People harkens back to the classic jazz-rock albums created by Chick Corea in the late 70’s, however, the influences on the creation of this album run the gamut. “We all channeled all the influences that encompass all the different ethnicities of people that we have known from all over the world, filtering their different heritages, life experiences, art, customs and what period in time they came from,” said Gibbs. This album comes as a celebration of the diversity of influences that are reflected within the jazz idiom.
The album pays homage to artists who have brought their own singular sound to the artform. “Scene 3 (Music From the Universe” is dedicated to Peter Erskine, “Scene 7 (Oh Yeah !)” is dedicated to Pharaoh Sanders, “Scene 10” is dedicated to Chick Corea, and named after him, “Scene 15 (Mike & Lenny)” is dedicated to Mike Clark & Lenny White, and “Scene 13 (Flying On The Wings of Fantasy)” is dedicated to Wayne Shorter. Additionally, one can’t help but hear the influence of major vibraphonist Roy Ayers in the serene vibes solo section in “Scene 3 (Music From the Universe),” and the funky HeadHunters influences on “Scene 6 (The Streets).” The title track: “(Scene 4) Our People,” features a virtuosic vibraphone melody expertly performed by Collins. Steeped in metric modulation and intense polyrhythmic interplay, the intensity of the track can not be understated. Kyeshie’s vocals impress, driving the finely tuned operatic harmonies over the rhythmic invention of the stellar rhythm section. The amalgamation of styles and influences create a wonderfully universally significant sound that seems to transcend genre.
While paying homage to an array of living legends of the artform, and exploring musical influences from around the globe, this album makes an important statement about unity and the human condition, and reminds the listener that we should view all people as “Our People.”
More about Gerry Gibbs
Gerry Gibbs is a Grammy nominated Drummer, Producer, Band Leader, Composer & Arranger. Gibbs has released 12 albums as a leader. His first, back in 1996, Gerry Gibbs Sextet – The Thrasher featured saxophonist Ravi Coltrane with Quincy Jones as Executive Producer and his second release First Visit, with the Third Trio From The Sun, featured 7-time Grammy winning producer Greg Kurstin (producer of Adele’s megahit “Hello”). More recently Gibbs released Gerry Gibbs & The Thrasher Dream Trio, We’re Back and Live In Studio which featured Jazz luminaries Ron Carter & Kenny Barron. These celebrated trio recordings featured many special guests including Cassandra Wilson, and Roy Hargrove. In 2014 and 2015, all 3 trio recordings topped the National Jazz Radio Charts; spending 15 weeks between the three CD’s at #1 while The Thrasher Dream Trio received a Grammy nomination in 2014. In November 2015 The Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio once again returned to #1 on the JazzWeek Jazz Charts as the most played Jazz CD across the country for several weeks. After performing with this legendary trio, Gibbs created the Thrasher People Band with the release of the double CD Weather or Not, that featured Gibbs’ acoustic jazz arrangements of Weather Report compositions as well as original material. Regarding the group’s seminal project, Wayne Shorter, co-founder of the legendary Weather Report exclaimed “Nice to hear graphically arranged material of Weather Report. Keep up with your creative mission!” Gibbs is excited to continue his creative mission with the Thrasher People Band with the upcoming release of Our People.
“Our People is a texturally rich endeavor, a mosaic of superimposed sounds and emotions carefully orchestrated into a 19 track journey through dreamy landscapes and angelic harmonies.” Read the full review here.
“These artfully layered pieces, alternately laidback and frenetic and spiked with grand gestures and rising-and-falling wordless vocals, harmonies stacked high, often verge on the cinematic.” Read the full review here.
MIDWEST REVIEW OF BOOKS
"...the result is a wondrous celebration of diversity, highly recommended especially for personal and public library world music collections!" Review here.
"Gleefully coloring outside the lines, this is what are you looking for when you are looking for something completely different done right. Hot stuff." Review here.