Album: Songs From My Father
Street Date: August 6, 2021
Label: Whaling City Sound
Songs From My Father is the much-anticipated new album from renowned musical polymath Gerry Gibbs. On his thirteenth release as a leader, drummer – percussionist – bandleader – arranger Gibbs presents a smashing double-disc masterwork featuring four iterations of his acclaimed Thrasher Dream Trio. Under his astute direction, this band of jazz titans pays homage to the musical legacy of Gerry’s 96-year-old father, Terry Gibbs. To honor Terry, one of the last living architects of bebop and innovators of the vibraphone, Gerry selected 18 tunes from his father’s vast discography and interpreted the timeless material through his own refined compositional lens with inventive, modern arrangements. Notably, Songs From My Father features the last recorded performance of the great Chick Corea, and includes one of Chick’s tunes composed specifically for this project. With Gibbs in the drum chair, his Thrasher Dream Trios include Chick Corea and Ron Carter; Kenny Barron and Buster Williams; Patrice Rushen and Larry Goldings; and Geoff Keezer and Christian McBride; along with percussionist Kyeshie Gibbs.
A global pandemic could not slow down this jazz luminary – instead it inspired an impressive stint of creative output. Gibbs presents Songs From My Father fresh off the heels from his 2019 epic, genre-defying opus Our People, hailed by Philip Booth of JazzTimes as “Artfully layered pieces often verg[ing] on the cinematic…Quite a feat,” as well as 2020’s Emotional Pandemic, an 18-track album fully composed, engineered and performed (all eight instruments!) by Gibbs and released, free-of-charge, to a select 500 friends and collaborators. In fact, it was this release that piqued the attention of the legendary Chick Corea who initially inquired about Gibbs’ process for writing and recording all of the instruments. The conversation evolved to the possibility of collaboration, and the concept was born of releasing a double disc filled with the product of Gibbs’ collaborations with four astounding trios, including a collaboration with Corea and Ron Carter. Corea would later ask to be more deeply involved in the music that was being recorded, composing an original piece in dedication to Terry Gibbs “Tango For Terry”, and arranging two pieces for the album.
Gibbs remarks “What I wanted to do seemed almost impossible with COVID, fear, traveling, safety precautions as well as logistics. How do you coordinate four trios when a disease was spreading all over America?” In the throes of a global pandemic, Gibbs found himself on a several-month nationwide journey to capture recordings of himself alongside a long list of his friends and collaborators – the finest improvisers of our time. NEA Jazz Master Ron Carter notes, “one of the fun things that I look forward to, when playing with Gerry is what part of drum history will I be able to identify when he plays…what an unfortunate surprise that the trio recording that I was a part of with Gerry would be Chick’s last recording. Chick and I played on several recordings together and I cherish those moments even more now.”
“To record my challenging music,” Gibbs notes, “and not being able to rehearse because of safety protocols seemed unrealistic, so I changed course and thought it would be best to play music that would be great vehicles to do what these 8 of the greatest improvisers on the planet are known for doing, improvise!” Ultimately, the bandleader decided to perform material written by one of his all-time favorite musicians and composers, someone’s music that was deeply integrated within his own musical upbringing and the history and lineage of the jazz idiom – the archetypal works of his own father Terry Gibbs.
Terry Gibbs first earned international recognition touring with Chubby Jackson, Buddy Rich and Woody Herman. In 1951, he joined the Benny Goodman Sextet. Subsequently, he toured with his own quartet where he won the title of “# 1 Vibraphonist in the world,” in both the Downbeat and Metronome polls from 1950 to 1955. Gibbs also played a role in breaking down the race and sex barrier in music by employing pianists Terry Pollard, who he often featured in vibe duos, Pat Moran, and Alice Coltrane. Throughout his illustrious career Gibbs has enjoyed world acclaim playing with greats such as clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and Tito Puente. With 65 albums to his credit, Gibbs is the composer of 300+ compositions that were recorded by Nat “King” Cole, Les Brown, Cannonball Adderly, Count Basie, George Shearing and many more.
Gibbs indicates that “for the longest time, I wanted to do a tribute to him while he was still here. He is getting ready to turn 97 this year and still in great shape. He is, of course, known for being one of the last original BeBoppers alive and innovators of the vibraphone. As you will hear, he composes in many different ways making it a lot of fun to reimagine his music through these 8 true giants in music – his melodies inspired some incredible solos from all 9 of us.”
During the process of recording, a huge tragedy occurred with the untimely and completely unexpected passing of Chick Corea. Gibbs notes “I, like everyone that’s my age, grew up learning from and idolizing Chick. For the last 5 months of his life we spoke weekly on the phone. Sometimes it was about future plans to do more music together, sometimes it was to talk about new music he or I was working on. Sometimes it was just to say hello. What an honor to have had those last 5 months becoming friends with him.” Songs From My Father is the last recording Chick Corea played on, a testament to Corea’s stellar creative output right up until the very end.
Disc 1 of Songs From My Father features Chick Corea and Ron Carter on “Bopstacle Course”, composed in 1974 and “Sweet Young Song of Love” composed in 1985, and arranged by Gibbs and Corea. The first disc’s final track, “Hey Chick”, is a special homage to the memory of Chick Corea. Conceived and compiled by Gerry Gibbs, this monumental performance features every musician from all four iterations of the Thrasher Dreams Trio as well as the audio from Terry Gibbs’ original 1961 recording of the composition, then titled “Hey Jim” (which also included pianist Pat Moran bassist Max Bennett and Mike Romero on drums). The melody of the piece is first stated by a trio with Geoff Keezer, Ron Carter and Gibbs on drums, seamlessly transitioning into the track’s first solo which features a recording of several choruses from Terry Gibbs’ solo from the original 1961 recording, which Gerry Gibbs fused with overdubbing from Larry Goldings on organ, and himself on drums. The piece then transitions through five additional solos featuring various trios with Gerry Gibbs alongside Larry Goldings and Ron Carter; Kenny Barron and Buster Williams; Patrice Rushen and Larry Goldings; Geoff Keezer and Christian McBride; and Ron Carter, Buster Williams, Larry Goldings and Christian McBride respectively. Upon listening to this special compilation of masterful performers, Gerry and Terry discussed the matter and decided to retitle the tune “Hey Chick” as a dedication to the late musical titan. The Thrasher Dream Trio iteration with the inimitable Kenny Barron and Buster Williams is featured on the album opener “Kick Those Feet” and “Take It From Me” both composed in 1964. “Smoke Em Up” (1968) and “Lonely Days” (1955) both feature Gibbs alongside pianist Patrice Rushen and organist Larry Goldings. Gibbs performs with pianist Geoff Keezer and bassist Christian McBride on 1955’s “Nutty Notes”, and 1958’s “The Fat Man”.
Disc 2 provides audiences with further arrangements of timeless Gibbs compositions including 1949’s “T & S” and 1955’s “Lonely Dreams” featuring Barron, Gibbs and Williams; 1978’s “Townhouse 3”, 1961’s “Hippie Twist” and 1958’s “Pretty Blue Eyes” featuring Rushen, Gibbs and Goldings; 1978’s “4 A.M”, 1961’s “For Keeps” and 1955’s “Gibberish” featuring Keezer, Gibbs and McBride; and 1964’s “Waltz For My Children” featuring and arranged by Chick Corea, alongside Gibbs and Carter as well as the final piece on the album – “Tango For Terry” written and performed by Corea for his old friend Terry Gibbs.
After 10 months and 15,000 miles of car travel to assemble the recordings for this masterpiece, Gerry Gibbs’ newest outing will finally be in the hands of listeners. “Songs From My Father” acts as a document to the memory of the fallen jazz titan who graces many of its tracks, Chick Corea, and the legacy of the luminary whose work the album reflects, bebop architect Terry Gibbs. With this monumental new recording, Gerry Gibbs cements his standing as one of the most creative and forward-thinking musicians on the contemporary jazz scene.
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.
for Songs From My Father
"Multi-instrumentalist and jazz composer Gerry Gibbs honors the late Chick Corea on his 13th album, Songs From My Father." Read the full news announcement here.
"Ultimately, Songs From My Father turns out to be a double tribute, to one living legend and to one recently departed, both of whom are deeply embedded in jazz’s DNA." Read the full review here.
for Our People
"With an abundance of musical instruments Gibbs wrote a nineteen volume worldly jazz fusion symphony." Read the full review here.
NEW YORK JAZZ WORKSHOP
”He has a new recording released this past June on Whaling City Sound called Our People where he, flutist Mayu Saeki, keyboardist Alex Collins, and bassist Gianluca Renzi, along with vocalist/percussionist wife Kyeshie Gibbs play an astonishing 40 instruments! in his most diverse, ambitious project yet.” Listen to the full podcast interview here.
“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.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"A medley of neoteric music that may be unfamiliar to the ear but is invariably bright and interesting." Read the full 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.
"The music of Our People presents a plethora of sounds and emotions that own realities could not possibly offer." Read the full review here.
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGE
"Overall, the mellow and laid back character of the music, in combination with the lively, sparkling vibrancy of the compositions and execution is highly contagious. It verges on the outskirts of prog yet it's certainly worth checking out. It brings a rewarding, summery smile in a smooth, relaxing and captivating way." Read the full review here.
"The album feels like a musical journey, with Gibbs at the drivers seat producing festive homages on “Chick Corea” or a soulful “Mike & Lenny.” If there’s a tour with this band, don’t miss it, but how many people can fit on the stage?!?" Full review here.