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Moving On

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Album Review

Drummer Gerry Gibbs and his Thrasher Band gives the modern jazz listener so much to absorb and digest, that it sometimes approaches overload. The dense and purposefully convoluted structures they employ are overwhelming to a more simpleminded, mainstream jazz audience. But make no mistake, this is a group comprised of brilliant musicians who are multi-faceted, if not multifarious. Each bandmember plays many instruments at one time or another, the music is expanded far beyond mortal combat, into a realm where listening creates disbelief. It's astonishing to hear this band go through their paces in a studio, so the live concert experience must be even more spectacular. Flanked by the many woodwinds of Justin Vasquez, Rob Hardt, and Eric Hargett, pianist Andy Langham, and bassist Richard Giddens, Gibbs exploits a huge color palette to offer grand re-interpretations of standards, and some original music that is, to put it mildly, out of this world. He also plays trumpet, vibes, and percussion on occasion, and is credited for composing four of the selections. They include the hot bop "Soundtrack for Routines on the Road" in nutty rhythm changes, including cartoonish whimsy and blues refrains in a tribute to longtime friend Ravi Coltrane. Also, the title "Mistakes, Misunderstandings, Moving On, Never Looking Back" (G.T.J.) incorporates a march beat with an accordion that sounds like an eulogy, "Music from the Frustrated Suite, Movement #7" is a funky and soured sound with sax and flute, while "Memories of Home" references a complex, ever-changing rhythmic stance and a soprano sax lead. John Coltrane is never far from Gibbs' thoughts via his full-blown reinterpretation of "Impressions/Giant Steps," fast and serene, witty and wild, while McCoy Tyner's lovely and potent "Festival in Bahia" has the band's heart in the right place via a steady rolling pace, though the melody is a bit imprecisely rendered. The Jaco Pastorius medley "Used to Be a Cha Cha/Teen Town" is done straight, loose, and fast just like the composer, with a bass clarinet as the centerpiece, Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" has the distinct flavor of John Coltrane, and "You Don't Know What Love Is" is a tender ballad, the most true-to-original-form song on the date, with pianist Langham and baritone saxophonist Hargett taking the lead. For contrast, "McBoogoo's Delight" is straight out of the N.Y.C. skunk funk, Bill Cosby show vein, with big-time, wah-wah, Texas broad strokes included. Loony interpretations of "I Loves You Porgy" and "All Blues" are the real stunners, the former literally insane in a short, concentrated, ultra-modern form with the arrangement of Vasquez and Hardt's oboe, while the latter is nearly unrecognizable until you listen closely to the diffuse spacing of notes and Hargett's deconstructed, flute-accented arrangement. Hardt also contributes "Purple Fingers" as intricate, involved, and indescribable as anything; "Five Towns" mixes Tex Mex waltz or flamenco with a pop feel à la Ry Cooder, and "Fields," penned by Vasquez, is a modern modal piece influenced again by Coltrane. Gibbs dedicates this recording to both the late Alice Coltrane and Dewey Redman, powerful figureheads who have influenced many progressive jazz musicians. Reflected in this truly stunning music, Gerry Gibbs has taken a giant leap forward in presenting new music that may stagger the imagination of some, but for others provides a revelation for a new jazz order that should drop jaws left and right. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Moving On, Gerry Gibbs
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