for pre-teen kids who grew up, 40 years ago, during the Beatles years
of the 1960s, 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 1970s 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 Gerrys 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 theres
also a quote from Mandel praising Gerrys 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 its 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.
presents an interview with
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 isnt 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
thats 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.
At what age did you start studying music and what is your music education
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 cant 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 youre
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?
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
thats 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 didnt 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 Carters 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 whats 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
isnt one random note or rhythm that they play that isnt
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 its 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.
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, "Its 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 Ill 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. Its the same thing
with my music.
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
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!
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... Its a different time. There are so many great drummers
playing but its 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 dont 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 dont hear a lot of soulfulness, just drums trying to control
the music. This isnt 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 dont realize that
everything has been done but perhaps certain drum fads werent
ready to be the next thing when they were being experimented with
in the 1970's.
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 1970s and was doing the same things back then. It wasnt
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.
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 doesnt. 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. Its all music to me. Ive even written
music for rappers.
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
also - February 6,7,8 & 9 - THE GERRY GIBBS ALL-STAR THRASHER
BIG BAND will be at LINCOLN CENTERS DIZZY'S COCA COLA
CLUB in NYC. for 4 nights! With a special guest each night! NICHOLAS
PAYTON, TOM HARRELL, PAQUITO DRIVERA 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 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.
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 Im 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 1950s and
1960s. 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 CENTERS DIZZYS COCA COLA
Thanks to Gerry Gibbs @ www.GerryGibbsMusic.com