By: Jack Bowers, All About Jazz
Our People, the twelfth album as leader by multi-instrumentalist Gerry Gibbs, is difficult to describe and even harder to pigeonhole. Is it jazz? Not really. Is it world music? Sometimes. And sometimes even other-worldly. Stream of consciousness? Perhaps, but always with a specific plan in mind. Tone poems? Only in the sense that there are times when Gibbs’ helical and esoteric charts may bring poetry to mind. One thing it definitely is not is a big-band album. Despite its capacious sound, Our People actually consists of five musicians playing, collectively, about forty instruments with voices added from time to time to amplify the impact. The session, recorded by the quintet in Gibbs’ apartment / studio in Queens, New York, numbers nineteen “scenes,” all written and arranged by the leader, and which, in his words, channel “all the influences [that] encompass all the . . . ethnicities of people [whom] we have known from all over the world, filtering their different heritages, life experiences, art [and] customs. . . It was these influences that inspired my writing and all the things done on this recording by [the] five of us.”
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