GERRY GIBBS
Thrasher Dream Trio
(Whaling City Sound)

 

Even for pre-teen kids who grew up, 40 years ago, during the Beatles years of the 1960’s, the discovery of American instrumental jazz and all its rich history really brought everything back home for so many in the mid to late 1970s. One name that was consistently being spoken of in the music world during those memorable mid to late ‘70s days was jazz bass great Ron Carter. The 1970’s was a prolific era for Carter and his legacy is at the root of Thrasher Dream Trio, the 2013 album release by Queens NYC drummer Gerry Gibbs. As it turns out Gerry’s dream of playing in a jazz trio with Ron Carter and another of his icons, jazz pianist Kenny Barron becomes a reality on Thrasher Dream Trio. Growing up a big fan of both Carter and Barron, Gerry Gibbs knows all the terrain that goes along with that swing-bop groove jazz style like the back of his hand, and the result is an album that finds Gibbs (nicknamed “Thrasher”) on the instrumental jazz equivalent of cloud nine. Among the many highlights here are very smooth and studied trio covers of “Promises, Promises” by Burt Bacharach and “The Shadow Of Your Smile” by Johnny Mandel. Amazingly one of the pages in the excellent CD booklet is filled with quotes from an array of musicians, sort of mini-reviewing the CD, and there’s also a quote from Mandel praising Gerry’s work as well. Thanks in part to his musician dad Terry Gibbs, his son, who was ten in 1974, got to meet these jazz legends at an early age so it’s more than rewarding to find Gerry Gibbs in such fine form in the studio, making state of the art 21st century jazz with two of his musical heroes. www.WhalingCitySound.com


mwe3 presents an interview with
GERRY GIBBS


mwe3: Can you tell us where you grew up and where you live now and what you like best about it?

GERRY GIBBS: I was born in NYC in 1964, but grew up in Los Angeles from age 1 to 23. Then I moved back to NYC. I love both places for living, but not for music. L.A. had an amazing music scene when I was a teen. Back then the clubs catered to what the musicians were playing and that was it. I had the opportunities then to play gigs with ALICE COLTRANE, WOODY SHAW, DONALD BYRD, BUDDY DEFRANCO, HAROLD LAND, BENNY MAUPIN, DOUG CARNE, LARRY GALES, HORACE TAPSCOTT, FRANK MORGAN, CONTI CONDOLI, FRANK ROSOLINO, ALAN BROADBENT, ERNIE WATTS, BILLY CHILDS as well as PARLIAMENT FUNKADELICS AND ROSE ROYCE among many others. Today, the majority of the places to play in L.A. caters in a lot of ways to more lounge singer type acts... which, I actually love music like that... and venues dictating what they want their listeners to hear, which isn’t the same type of high energy music that people flock to NYC to hear when they come visit because they can't find clubs in L.A. that allow that kind of energy in their place.

Just look at the calendars of the places that have jazz in L.A. and that’s what you will see. The same thing happens a little in NYC too where certain clubs cater to one or two things but the audiences are always listening audiences and the clubs have way more varieties of jazz music going on than L.A. The worst part of it, is that there are too many great hard hitting jazz artists in L.A. who get shut out of the scene there, because venues want to give their listeners a different type of experience which is a lower energy type of music which is not the same as NYC. If I lived in L.A. right now as a teenager, the scene would not have allowed me such an education. As far as living, L.A. is much more appealing to me for so many obvious reasons. Weather, space and a better domestic life of course.

mwe3: At what age did you start studying music and what is your music education like?

GERRY GIBBS: I actually started playing the drums when I was 4 years old. I was always around great musicians growing up and just being around them listening to them play and talk to them and having chances to sit in with them was the real education and something that no school could teach you. Also listening to so many different types of records growing up and being taught by older musicians how to learn from them was also an education that school could not teach. You learn to listen to why the piano payer comped behind the solo the way he did or why the bass player played what he did, so that you can then understand more than just playing the drums. Anyone can do that.

mwe3: Your dad is Terry Gibbs who has a lot of recordings out on a number of labels. Wow, your dad is a legend. How is he these days? What are some of your favorite albums from your dad and how did he influence your music?

GERRY GIBBS: He is 89 and doing great... He has chose not to play a lot these days but when the right thing is there he is still able to play great like he always has. I own all of his recordings and can’t say I have a favorite. None of them sound alike which makes it impossible to have a favorite... I love all of his big band records and I love one called Bopstical Course recorded in 1974. If you listen to everything he has done, he has done it with every kind of configuration there is and musical style, even Jewish melodies, lounge type of music and even nursery rhyme songs, lol . All jazz but each one so unique.

mwe3: What instruments do you play most and being that you’re a drummer, what is your approach to writing music? Do you connect the dots, so to speak, and write out and read your music with notation?

GERRY GIBBS: I write or arrange music just like most, from the piano. I have always been more influenced by melodic ideas way more then rhythmic ideas to compose music. I don't think I've ever written one piece of music that came from a rhythm first. I love all instruments and will write for any instrument ever invented into my music, if that’s what I hear. I have written music for big band, big band with a gospel choir and a sitar and rapper all in one concert performance. I have written for electric, acoustic and a combination of both. I have written trio music and even for 3 keyboard players and myself. That was a great one that featured Brad Mehldau, Billy Childs and Greg Kurstin. I love all music and hear things I want to write for any style, not just jazz.

mwe3: How would you describe the influence that both Ron Carter and Kenny Barron had on your own musical style and can you tell us how that style translated in the studio on what turned out to become the Thrasher Dream Trio CD? I was reading in the CD booklet how you had to kind of pinch yourself that you were recording with two of your musical idols, although didn’t you meet Ron Carter when you were young?

GERRY GIBBS: I could write a book on this question but I will just point out a few key things... Ron Carter’s choice of notes are not like most. They deal with the most melodic ideas anyone could ever play on the bass. They deal with a million ways to influence the form and always be accompanying what’s happening in the music. I wanted to try to do the same thing on the drums... Ron's choice of notes can help take the soloist somewhere without forcing him and that perfect balance he has is something that can teach a musician on any instrument so much. Kenny, as with Ron has the same brilliance on the piano.

Even if they are playing totally free with no chords or rhythm, there isn’t one random note or rhythm that they play that isn’t perfect and logical. They also would be helping to phrase the music just like if they were playing changes and phrasing. Everything either of them do is the highest level of melodic ideas mixed with beautiful rhythmic ideas mixed with the hippest phrasing and of course the sound they both get.

You always know it’s them. Right there is everything you need to know about music and those are two very important guys I spent my whole life learning from... When i was kid, I would play along with records with the two of them. During the recordings of “Epistrophy”, “A Feeling”, and “Sunshower”, as we were recording the music, a few times I closed my eyes and saw a little 12 year old boy in his back bedroom after school playing along with his records of those Ron Carter and Kenny Barron classics and remembered myself back then dreaming that I was actually playing these songs with them in concert or in the studio.

As I open my eyes and saw Ron Carter and Kenny Barron there in the studio playing, I then closed my eyes again and saw the little 12 year old boy named Gerry wink at me from behind his drums in his back bedroom and imagined him saying, "It’s not a dream anymore, now it's for real which also in itself is a dream, and pictured him saying "go live and document this dream we started 37 years ago!”

mwe3: In addition to music by Kenny and Ron, the Thrasher Dream Trio CD also features music by Miles, Monk, Coltrane as well as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach and Johnny Mandel, who wrote the music to “The Shadow Of Your Smile”. What were the sonic parameters, so to speak, when it came to defining the scope of the music you chose to record for Thrasher Dream Trio?

GERRY GIBBS: Once everyone said yes and the dates for the recording were set, I do what I always do which is to sit on the couch with a piece of paper and pencil. I then picture a soundtrack in my head. Ron, Kenny and I are the actors. There are no words. The script is melodies and rhythm and I picture the whole 65 plus minutes in my head like a script. After I have written it all down on paper, I never really deviate from it. In that hour I will recall on songs I have had already written or have in my head to write as well as someone else's music. The recording, as I said earlier, could have taken any type of direction in music. I hate the idea of programming a record where you say, well we need a Bossa Nova or a ballad here, etc etc. I just create a movie type soundtrack in my head and whatever came out in that hour, that's the CD and then on to the next !

mwe3: How would you compare the Thrasher Dream Trio with some of your other recordings and how has your approach to recording and writing music changed and evolved over the years?

GERRY GIBBS: Nothing has changed at all. I have 30 different records in my head all the time and always have. I hate to have to chose which one I’ll chose when I have an opportunity to record. This has allowed me to have a constant thread from the very first record I have ever made to the very last one I will ever make. There is a constant thread that runs through the whole world. Every country is different with many different things to experience but there is still common thread through every culture. It’s the same thing with my music.

Where every record is drastically different and never sounds like the same band, there is a common thread within my first 7 solo recordings. I have tons of experience in the studio and know exactly how I want things to sound from the musicians I chose and the sound of the recording. And I have never put out a CD that didn't sound exactly like I imagined it when I spent that initial one hour putting it all down on paper. Now does that mean someone will like the record? (lol) Well you do your best and hope people will like it, but at least you put out what you intended.

mwe3: In addition to Kenny Barron and Ron Carter, who else kind of shaped your musical mind and who were other musical heroes of yours so to speak?

GERRY GIBBS
: That's the worst question to answer because there are way too many to mention, but I will just throw out who comes to mind and in no particular order:

MY POPS, MCCOY TYNER, JACK DEJOHNETTE, JOHN COLTRANE, CHARLIE PARKER, BUDDY RICH, TONY WILLIAMS, ELVIN JONES, WEATHER REPORT, BILLY HOLIDAY, HERBIE HANCOCK, DIZZY GILLESPIE, OSCER PETERSON, COLEMAN HAWKINS, ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO, BUSTER WILLIAMS, YES, BARTOK, FREDDIE HUBBARD, WAYNE SHORTER, JOE ZAWINUL, ESQUIVEL, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, COUNT BASIE, JACO PASTORIOUS, RETURN TO FOREVER, STANLEY CLARKE, HUBERT LAWS, GEORGE BENSON, JOHN ABERCROMBIE, ARTHUR BLYTHE, KING CRIMSON, U.K., DUKE ELLINGTON, MEL LEWIS, MILES DAVIS, BERNARD HERMAN, SAMMY DAVIS JR., EGBERTO GISMONTE, CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, WOODY HERMAN, JOE HENDERSON, JOE FARRELL, ROY AYERS, HERBIE HANCOCK, FRANK SINATRA, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, STANLEY TURRNETINE, STAN GETZ, MIKE CLARKE, HARVEY MASON, LOUIS BELLSON, BILLY HART, ALPHONZE MOUZON, AZAR LAWRENCE, WES MONTGOMERY, THAD JONES, WOODY SHAW CTI RECORDINGS, BLUENOTE RECORDS, PHAROAH SANDERS, BOB JAMES, ART BLAKEY, MAX ROACH, ROY HAYNES, HANK JONES, CHICAGO, BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS, GINO VANELLI, RAY BROWN, SHELLY MANN, JOE and PHILLY JOE JONES, FOCUS, DOUG and JEAN CARNE, EDDIE HENDERSON, GARY BARTZ, BENNIE MAUPIN, ALICE COLTRANE, ALAN HOLDSWORTH, AIRTO, LENNY WHITE, CHICK COREA, THE BRECKER BROTHERS. BURT BACHRACH, DIONNE WARWICK, NORMAN CONNERS, DAVE HOLLAND, DEAN MARTIN, BILLY CHILDS, DIANE REEVES, SARAH VAUGHN, DON PULLEN/GEORGE ADAMS, PAT METHENY, EDDIE GOMEZ, PAUL CHAMBERS, FRANK ZAPPA, BENNY GOODMAN, GEORGE DUKE, BILLY COBHAM, JAN GARBAREK, JOHN SCOFIELD, SONNY ROLLINS, AL FOSTER, ZBIGNIEW SIEFERT, URSULA DUDZIAK, MONTY ALEXANDER, GERI ALLEN, DEWEY REDMAN, KEITH JARRETT, LESTER YOUNG, NAT ADDERELY, MIROSLAV VITOUS, BUDDY DEFRANCO, NAT COLE, and 1000 others!

I could say were all influences on me. I own over 10,000 plus records and everyone I have mentioned... I own most of everything they have recorded. I know I am forgetting tons of other names but these are the first to come to mind here the first 3 minutes!

mwe3: It seems like drummers are the often overlooked band leaders and composers. What drummers inspired you the most? Were you inspired by the classic jazz drummers like Art Blakey and what younger drummers today interest you?

GERRY GIBBS: The drummers whom led bands that influenced me the most growing up with the music they recorded and produced were:

JACK DEJONETTE, ELVIN JONES, TONY WILLIAMS, BUDDY RICH, LOUIS BELLSON, MEL LEWIS, ART BLAKEY, MAX ROACH, SHELLY MANN, ALPHONZE MOUZON, HARVEY MASON, BILLY HART, BILL BRUFORD, BILLY COBHAM and ROY HAYNES....

I know I am leaving some others out here! (lol). As far as drummers today... It’s a different time. There are so many great drummers playing but it’s different in many ways. After speaking to so many of the masters of this music, it always seems to be the same thoughts I hear which I, myself feel the same way. The art of accompanying someone, no matter what the music is seems to be a dying art. Most of the young drummers, it seems have checked out so little compared to what my generation did in the past. What we learned from so many of those guys was how to play in a band no matter how inside/outside the music was. It didn't matter even if you were playing free or in any odd meter.

Today you hear this generation playing all over the music and way more all over the band. You don’t hear a lot of the drummers getting inside the music, just mostly playing all over it, forcing all the attention and direction on them. I have had this same chat with many and I always hear the same thoughts which they seem to share this same feeling.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with drummers today playing all over the music and not inside of it, but I guess for me, listening to a drummer playing inside the music is what resonates the most for me. Because then I can still hear the color/chords, and everything going on in the music - no matter what kind it is, not just a drummer sounding bored trying to sub divide the music anytime he wants to see how much he can stretch things out.

I don’t hear a lot of soulfulness, just drums trying to control the music. This isn’t a new way of playing at all. Many young people think it is because they seem to skip over a lot of history and listen only a little to the masters and listen mostly to the newest gospel chop drummer or hip hop drummer. They don’t realize that everything has been done but perhaps certain drum fads weren’t ready to be the next thing when they were being experimented with in the 1970's.

I have toured with people like Flying Lotus and others and people will come up to me talking about J Dilla or drum and bass stuff and ask how did I get into doing things like that being that I am older. I tell them the truth. I say, I was already hearing people do that in the 1970’s and was doing the same things back then. It wasn’t new for me to do it, it was revisiting what I had tried 25 years ago. I just had this same chat recently with a few drummer legends of different styles of music and everyone talked about how so many unknown guys were doing the same things that so many think are new concepts today.

If I just had to pick a few random drummers who are younger than me), that I think are really playing today, I would just at the top of my head say:

LAWRENCE LEATHERS, MARK FERBER, JOHN BLAKE JR., BYRON LANDRUM, DONALD EDWARDS, KEVIN KANNER.

There are many others but they came to mind at this very moment, because you said younger than me and because these guys can play anything. Any style of music and can play as busy and wild and intense as anyone but they always think of the music first and make sure that the quarter note is as grooving soulful, whether it be swinging, funky or whatever it is first. They compose on the drums, the music is always what influences and dictates what they play on the drums. Them and what they play when playing with a band and not vise versa - which is what I hear more from drummers today than anytime before.

Sometimes the music allows a drummer to be all over the place and sometimes it doesn’t. When it comes to just playing a groove, meaning any kind of music, I hear a lot of drummers once they have to leave all the chops and trying to sub/divide everything, then if they are just keeping time, the music goes flat. There are tons of other great drummers, those were just the names I thought at the top of my head.

mwe3: What other genres are you interested in as a composer and a performer? Do soundtracks interest you and/or neoclassical sounds? How do you feel jazz will evolve this century?

GERRY GIBBS: Everything... I have written music for Straight Ahead Jazz, Fusion Jazz, Big Band Jazz, Avant Gard Jazz, Orchestral, Pop music, R&B, Sound Track Music, Heavy Metal Music, Funk Music and other kinds. It’s all music to me. I’ve even written music for rappers.

mwe3: What plans do you have for 2014 as far as writing and recording new music and also upcoming events or performances and other musical activities?

GERRY GIBBS: There will be some new recordings. A different Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio called the Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio #2 with Stanley Clarke and Geri Allen and we are working on putting another repeat of the Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio with RON CARTER and KENNY BARRON but this time we will add GUEST ROY AYERS ON VIBES

also - February 6,7,8 & 9 - THE GERRY GIBBS ALL-STAR “THRASHER BIG BAND” will be at LINCOLN CENTER’S DIZZY'S COCA COLA CLUB in NYC. for 4 nights! With a special guest each night! NICHOLAS PAYTON, TOM HARRELL, PAQUITO D’RIVERA and (NO SADLY, NOT MY POPS) but one more guest that I have to wait till this January to announce due to contract reasons. Please look back in late January 2014 for the announcement!

THE GERRY GIBBS ALL-STAR THRASHER BIG BAND

SAXOPHONES: STEVE WILSON , VINCENT HERRING , ERIC ALEXANDER , VICTOR GOINES, RONNIE CUBER

TROMBONES: ROBIN EUBANKS, CONRAD HERWIG, STEVE DAVIS

TRUMPETS: FRANK GREEN, MARVIN STAMM, LEW SOLOFF, JOE MAGNARELLI

RHYTHM SECTION: DWAYNE BURNO , DONALD VEGA & GERRY GIBBS

As many people know, I have have had a big band for many years which I write and arrange all the music for.

THE GERRY GIBBS THRASHER BIG BAND RECORDED LIVE AT LUNA went to #41 on the Jazz radio charts back in 2005. In the past my THRASHER BIG BAND have had many special guests with names such as JAMES MOODY, CLARK TERRY, JON HENDRICKS and my father TERRY GIBBS.

This time, I will be putting most of my music away to play the music and pay tribute to my father “THE LEGENDARY TERRY GIBBS”. 89 years old and doing great! I wanted to do this tribute to him while he is still alive and in all honesty I’m sure he will be around another 40 -50 years, and I wanted to do this while I was still around !

THE LEGENDARY TERRY GIBBS DREAM BAND won many DOWNBEAT awards as best big band in the world between 1958 to 1962. The band, was made up of all legendary West Coast jazz musicians of the 1950’s and 1960’s. THE DREAM BAND recorded 8 solo recording which 7 were all Grammy Nominees. I have access to many of the greatest charts written for that band, which we will perform on these 4 special nights only. I have also written an original that will be dedicated to him.

DON'T MISS OUT ON SEEING THE GERRY GIBBS ALL-STAR THRASHER BIG BAND THIS FEBRUARY 6,7,8,9 AT LINCOLN CENTER’S DIZZY’S COCA COLA ROOM, NYC.

Thanks to Gerry Gibbs @ www.GerryGibbsMusic.com

 

 
   
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