Winning Spins By George Kanzler (Hot House Magazine July2015)
One trombonist honoring the legacy of an illustrious forebear and another exploring new options in contemporary compositions comprise this month’s Winning Spins. Steve Davis, a mainstay of the Big Apple’s contingent of neo-bop/hard bop mainstream, assembles a heavy-hitting sextet for his tribute to the “father of the modern trombone,” J.J. Johnson. David Gibson leads a quintet fronted by trombone and trumpet in a program weighted heavily toward his knotty originals.
BOOM!, David Gibson (Posi-Tone), features a quintet the leader dubs The DG 5tet. Its lineup features the growing-in-popularity double brass frontline with Gibson’s trombone joined by Josh Evans’ trumpet. Theo Hill plays acoustic and electric pianos, Alex Claffy, bass and Kush Abadey, drums. Aside from the opening, “The High Road,” in a fairly familiar hard bop vein with nifty turnarounds, the other seven originals reveal a postmodern, beyond bop and swing sensibility. Gibson’s tone and approach, unlike Davis’ more classic neo-bop style, employ slippery runs as well as tonal gruffness and burlap vibrato.
“Rare Truth,” the second track, is indicative of Gibson’s gnarlier, labyrinthine inclination. Beginning with slow, stately long notes, it quickly shifts to a skittery uptempo strain, then the two tempos and approaches alternate throughout the track. Off-center rhythms and a long meter feel with accelerating time, plus echoey electric piano, fuel “Grassfed,” with a high register trumpet solo matched by fleet trombone slurried runs.
Back on acoustic piano, Hill evokes McCoy Tyner on “Eyes of Argus” and the rhythms from Abadey are highly charged and sprung, like a tiger trying to break out of a bag, meshing best with Evans’ crackling trumpet solo and Hill’s powerful interplay within his own solo. Slower originals range from a melodically waltzing “Persephone” and lush “The Dance” to the strange, haunting “Empathy,” with its semi-rubato horn lines and slow drag tempo.
Electric piano returns on the CD title tune, another snappy theme with sprung rhythms and frisky horn solos. Rounding out the program are Tom McIntosh’s almost standard, “The Cup Bearers,” and a cover of Eric Clapton’s 1996 Grammy multi-winner: “Change the World,” as an affectionate ballad.
David Gibson (Posi-Tone)
by Elliott Simon (The New York City Jazz Record) July 2015
This quintet, seamlessly organized around trombonist David Gibson, makes it sound easy to play flawless mainstream hardbop. It isn’t easy, especially on a saxless trombone-led session. Gibson however uses speed, sweet talk, seduction and brashness to demonstrate the scope of his instrument on Boom!. Eight new tunes, which vary from burners to ballads, define this well-oiled session while “The Cup Bearers” and “Change the World” showcase the band’s range on two familiar but disparate songs.
As the musical director for the George Gee Orchestra, Gibson produces slick and complex big band music that swings. Those talents are in use here as the band’s two-horn sound is way bigger than one would expect. In these smaller environs Gibson reveals his versatility and precision. He is a player who never strays too far from the pocket but is both inventive and engaging, masterfully keeping up with Josh Evans’ fleet trumpet runs and the slick pace set by pianist Theo Hill, bassist Alex Claffy and drummer Kush Abadey. Opener “The High Road” is a well-constructed ensemble piece presenting this aspect of the band.
Gibson can also be quite alluring and even downright sexy. On more pensive moments like “Rare Truth”, his solos are exquisitely presented and the lovely intimacy of “The Dance” is the perfect after- dinner romantic snuggler. Hill switches to Rhodes on the phantasmagoric “Grass Fed”, allowing Evans and Gibson to encounter the cool on their own terms, while the title cut is razor sharp and confirms its name with strut and style as opposed to cacophony. Gibson also dabbles in Greek mythology with an initially seductive encounter with “Persephone”, Queen of the Underworld, which twists and turns, and a fittingly powerful tribute to the 100 “Eyes of Argus” Panoptes, the watchman of Io. Gibson perfectly fits together all these pieces on Boom!.
Some of the material presented here, along with the men that present it, brings out the bolder side of Gibson. The trombonist allies himself with intrepid players like trumpeter Josh Evans, who occasionally carries the fire of Freddie Hubbard and the spirit of Woody Shaw in his horn, and pianist Theo Hill, who works his way through this music with firm-handed brilliance. Then there’s the steady-as-a-rock bass work of Alex Claffy and the swinging-turned-swatting drums of Kush Abadey to contend with. When all five men fire on all cylinders, (“The High Road” and “Eyes Of Argus”), the results are breathtaking. But strength doesn’t define this group. This is a quintet that’s just as likely to float (“The Dance”), create a vibe tune (“Grass Fed”), or move with a spring in its step (“Persephone”) as it is to muscle its way through a piece.
Gibson wrote eight of the ten songs on this record, covering everything from edgy burners to groove music (“Boom!”), but he chose to close the album with a pair of dissimilar covers—”The Cupbearers,” a jazz standard that’s often associated with pianist Tommy Flanagan, and “Change The World,” a pop piece that Eric Clapton and Babyface delivered to the masses. The former cooks and kicks while the latter moves slowly, closing out the album in earthy fashion.
Gibson’s organ group always delivered good time sounds with heart and soul, but this quintet is a step above that band. This group brings out the best in his playing and his music, emphasizing the might and musicality in his work.
By Brent Black
End of the Tunnel
By Bill Milkowski
Had to check the calendar eight bars into the greasy boogaloo opener, Herbie Hancock’s “Blind Man, Blind Man,” because it sounded like another night at Small’s Paradise circa 1963. The same authentic feel prevails on Jared Gold’s soulful, Horace Silver-inspired “Preachin’” and his jaunty shuffle-blues “Splat.” Bandleader David Gibson has been courting this funky old-school muse for a while now with his working quartet featuring superb B3 maven Gold, alto saxophonist Julius Tolentino and drummer Quincy Davis. Hard-hitting goodfoot numbers like “Wasabi” bear the unmistakable stamp of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, while the churchified “Sunday Morning” recalls the Wayne Henderson-Wilton Felder connection of the early Jazz Crusaders. A boisterous romp through the bop-fueled title track directly connects Gibson to trombone elders J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton and Curtis Fuller.
A Little Somethin’
By Mark Corroto, All About Jazz, August 24, 2009
Easily mistaken for a Blue Note session of the 1960s (and that’s just fine), the latest by trombonist David Gibson delivers a solid buoyant session of burners. Except for the classic “April In Paris,” all the music was written by the trombonist or a a band member. The presence of organist Jared Gold ramps up the energy considerably. His sound competes with each other instrument for space, forcing that macho bebop favored by trombonist Curtis Fuller, drummer Elvin Jones and trumpeter Lee Morgan.
Gibson is not adverse to the muscular attack. He and alto saxophonist Julius Tolentino manage a front line that sounds as if there were double the two horns heard. Perhaps it is their choice of this more audacious bebop that fuels the recording. They certainly go for popular attention with the funky “Hot Sauce,” which comes straight out of saxophonist Tom Scott’s bag of the late 1970s and jam-sound of “In The Loop.” But mostly this record is about solid swing and small group dynamics, all captured with a burning intensity.
A Little Somethin’- David Gibson
By Ken Dryden,allmusic.com
Trombonist David Gibson worked with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and Slide Hampton after arriving in New York City, though A Little Somethin’ is his fourth CD as a leader. With Gibson joined by his working band consisting of alto saxophonist Julius Tolentino, organist Jared Gold, and drummer Quincy Davis, the focus is on the band’s lively originals. Gibson penned five songs, beginning with the infectious Latin-flavored opener, “The Cobbler.” Gibson’s “Hot Sauce” is not Latin but funk-flavored, highlighted by robust solos from the leader and Gold. Tolentino contributed the percolating “One for Jackie,” which blends bop with bossa nova in a driving setting. Gold’s rapid-fire “In the Loop” charges out of the gate like commuters streaming from the subway during rush hour, with energetic solos by Tolentino, Gibson, and the composer. The sole standard is a loping treatment of “April in Paris,” which deliberately clips the introduction of the theme and showcases the leader’s expressive trombone. This fine all-around session is warmly recommended.
David Gibson | Nagel Heyer Records
By Forest Dylan Bryant, JazzTimes, August 2008
David Gibson’s third CD is heartfelt, confident and completely gratifying, mixing up favorite tunes by trombone icons J.J. Johnson and Slide Hampton with three vibrant originals. Gibson’s thick trombone tone and supple attack form a seamless continuum with Wayne Escoffery’s muscular tenor sax and Freddie Hendrix’s bright yet viscous trumpet lines, while an agile rhythm section applies just the right combination of elegance and heat. Gibson also reveals a special fondness for the late trumpeter Woody Shaw, whose edgy yet tender spirit watches over several tracks. -Forrest Dylan Bryant, Jazz Times
The Path to Delphi
David Gibson | Nagel Heyer Records
By Terrell Kent Holmes
The Path to Delphi, trombonist David Gibson’s latest work, is a walk along the path of spirituality in the tradition of John Coltrane. The Hellenic-themed opus kicks off with Dwayne Burno’s bass statement on the title cut, a tightly arranged, reed-driven tune. Rick Germanson’s deft and inventive piano solo sparkles, building the tension before Gibson steps in with a solo whose ideas fit nicely into the groove, with Wayne Escoffery wailing on soprano in his wake.
Rich horn arrangements highlight “Icarian Sea,” the centerpiece of which is splendid Middle Eastern-laced soprano from Escoffery and measured blowing by Gibson. “Son of Alcumus” is a slice of cool bop. Escoffery has another fine solo and the rhythm section switches things up behind the horns. Germanson solos here with the same adventurism, rhythmic inventiveness, and intonation as a sax player. “Eidolon” is an uptempo burner that marks the first appearance of the great Randy Brecker on trumpet. Joe Strasser’s opening drum salvo takes the group to the groove, Gibson blows a hot solo, and Brecker sprints along behind him, his rhythmic drive and ideas clear and formidable as usual.
The beautiful “Hestia’s Egress” opens with Gibson brooding on his horn. Escoffery sympathizes with him and the two exchange lamentations as the rhythm section whispers its condolences. “Persephone” is midtempo with another appearance by Brecker, who wittily works in a quote from an Irish jig during his soaring, fluttering solo. “Serpents of Hera” features Brecker on flugelhorn supplementing Gibson’s introspective playing.
The group fires on all cylinders again on “The Oracle Within,” and “Prometheus’ Peace” is a fitting, serene conclusion to an excellent work of boundless depth and richness. Gibson shows that a personal quest, on whatever level, can be shared, inclusive, and enriching for everyone.
– Terrell Kent Holmes, All About Jazz
The Path to Delphi (Nagel Heyer)
David Gibson-Four out of Five Stars
By Scott Yanow-All Music Guide
With its esoteric titles (“Icarian Sea,” “Hestia’s Egress,” “Serpents of Hera,” et al.), one would think that trombonist David Gibson’s recording was a suite that could possibly be the soundtrack for a Greek mythology film. Actually the nine songs, despite the forbidding titles, are primarily hard bop. Gibson’s style is a little reminiscent of a slightly more modern Curtis Fuller, trumpeter Randy Brecker is always a strong asset in this type of setting, and Wayne Escoffery’s soprano adds a great deal to the ensembles. The rhythm section keeps the music swinging and the ballads properly brooding. So despite the names of the songs, this is the type of set that can easily be enjoyed by fans of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, even if the music is not an exact copy. -Scott Yanow-All Music Guide
The Path to Delphi (Nagel Heyer)
David Gibson-Three and a half stars
By Zan Stewart, The Newark Star-Ledger
Trombonist, composer and arranger David Gibson, who has been heard with Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, among others, has put together a zesty, meaty recording. Reminiscent of the best mid-‘60s Blue Note dates by people like McCoy Tyner and Wayne Shorter, the CD comprises all original, and engaging, Gibson material. The band is A-1 –Gibson, trumpeter Randy Brecker, soprano saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Joe Strasser – and it plays that way. The pieces all have something, from the easy flow of “Hestia’s Egress,” with big-toned Gibson notes, to the bite of “Eidolon,” where a crack Strasser solo kicks things off. At points, the title track has the sway of the Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things”; Escoffery’s soprano adds to that mood. The medium “Serpents of Hera” is just one number where Brecker shines.
–Zan Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger
The Path to Delphi(Nagel Heyer Records)
By Tad Hendrickson for JazzWeek Magazine
To read the song titles of The Path To Delphi, you’d think that trombonist David Gibson has a thing for Greek mythology. But to hear the music on The Path is to hear a player immersed in the work of creation, jazz creation that is. Gibson’s second album as a leader features nine bebop into post-bop originals that recall classic straight-ahead jazz of the ’60s. Fortunately the sextet (which actually performs as a quintet with Randy Brecker on horn and Wayne Escoffrey on soprano sax alternating duties) keeps the music from being musty – solos are tasteful and not particularly long as they move the material forward. Brecker catches fire on the beautiful “Persephone” while everyone sizzles on “Eidolon.” Eschewing bombast for delicacy, Gibson himself sounds great as he adds dancing nuance and subtlety each time he picks up the horn, particularly on closer “Prometheus’sPeace.” Other highlights include the strong group interplay on the jaunty title track and the ballad “Hestia’s Egress.”– Tad Hendrickson
The Path to Delphi
David Gibson | Nagel Heyer Records
By John Kelman
Some jazz fans are constantly on the lookout for innovation and look down their noses at albums that are less than revolutionary—or even evolutionary, for that matter. But the truth is that within the broader purview of jazz there’s plenty of room for works that are less ambitious but no less engaging. Sometimes a good story well told should be taken on face value, rather than looking for deeper meaning and significant invention.
Such is the case with trombonist David Gibson’s second release on Nagel Heyer, The Path to Delphi. Possessed of a gorgeously warm tone and confident dexterity reminiscent of J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, and Curtis Fuller, Gibson writes from a modal-based post bop aesthetic. His compositions don’t necessarily stand out; it’s unlikely that they’ll ever become often-covered classics. But the nine original pieces that make up The Path to Delphi are nevertheless nicely swinging vehicles that give Gibson and his sextet plenty of opportunity to stretch out and explore a mainstream vibe that holds one’s attention from start to finish.
With an ensemble that includes three other relative newcomers (saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Rick Germanson, and drummer Joe Strasser) and two more seasoned veterans (bassist Dwayne Burno and trumpeter Randy Brecker), Gibson has fashioned a group that navigates with authority and complete commitment, despite the relative greenness of some of its members. Escoffery has two of his own releases out on Nagel Heyer, including last year’s shimmering Intuition, and his own exploration of a post-Coltrane sensibility is in perfect sync with Gibson’s own disposition. Little needs to be said about Brecker, who’s nothing if not a team player. His breadth of field and depth of vision enhances every session he’s on, yet his almost legendary status never overshadows the younger players.
The three horn lineup—trombone, trumpet, and soprano saxophone (Escoffery sticks solely to the high horn for this set)—makes for a rich and full-bodied front line. Whether on the gently balladic “Hestia’s Egress,” the lightly swinging “Persephone,” the more brooding “Serpents of Hera,” or the Spanish-tinged “Icarian Sea,” the group echoes a ‘60s Blue Note vibe, perhaps not as cerebral as saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s work, but with some precedence there nonetheless.
Neither forward-thinking enough to rattle any cages nor so backward-looking as to be labelled strictly traditionalist, Gibson’s The Path to Delphi is, quite simply, a consistently enjoyable set of well-written tunes, well-played by artists ranging from the established to the emergent. It’s too early to tell whether or not Gibson will develop his voice in a more distinctive fashion, but until then he could do far worse than release honest, unassuming, and thoroughly compelling albums like this one.
Review of “Maya” by Mike Rogers in Jazz Review Magazine(UK)
Of the Gibson CD I have to be objective, quiet and unbiased-I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT. Six good originals by Gibson, one by Sneider and two standards make up 50 minutes of uncompromising, hard swinging bop played by seven terrific players you never heard of- well, maybe you have heard of Escoffery. Where have they come from? Sent here from planet jazz fully formed and ready to blow I suppose. Gibson names Slide Hampton and Curtis Fuller, amongst others, as an influence, but Bill Harris sounds like a greater influence to me. Gibson has a deep sound with great technique and can blow hard on the swingers and soulfully on the ballads, like “Maya”. Sneider stays in the middle range of his horn and only uses the upper register for effect, and sparingly, while Escoffery can be puffy like Webster and still retain the post-bop licks. “Solid State” is a minor blues theme which could be on a Messengers album- no messing, a short intro and we’re off into a burning trombone solo. These guys listen too, and more often than not a soloist picks the last phrase of the previous solo as his entry point. No one outstays his welcome, solos are to the point and not every horn features on every track. In his notes Gibson thanks Frank Nagle-Heyer for believing in him- right on, Frank. I hope that this CD signals that Nagel Heyer are continuing to broaden their repertoire out of purely mainstream swing and into other jazz forms. We need them to. Please buy this CD as an encouragement to Frank to continue along this path. In case I forgot to say it- I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT.
Maya by David Gibson: A Review
Published: 10/10/2002 on www.trombone.org
For those of you with doubts about the future of modern jazz trombone, let Maya by David Gibson assuage your fears. The debut CD from this New York based jazz musician is a fresh and exciting set of seven originals and two standards. Gibson, winner of the 1991 Frank Rosolino Memorial Award from the International Trombone Association, can also be heard on Things To Come , the recent release from the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Big Band, and on the forthcoming recording by Slide Hampton and World of Trombones.
On Maya , Gibson is joined by a cast of like minded, and similarly gifted, young musicians. John Sneider and Wayne Escoffery provide skillful ensemble work and compelling solos; and the rhythm section of Jeremy Manasia, Dwayne Burno or Peter Hartman, and Tony Leone provide buoyancy and vitality in their accompaniment. However, the highlight of this CD is the beautiful sound and fluid execution of David Gibson’s trombone playing. In his liner notes, Gibson acknowledges the influence, mentorship, and/or friendship of four trombonists: Slide Hampton, J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, and Steve Davis. Each of these influences can be heard in Gibson’s playing, but he probably won’t be mistaken for any of them, he just sounds like David Gibson.
All of the original compositions on Maya land safely in the middle of the post-bop jazz style. The trumpet/tenor/bone front line and the hard swinging style come straight from the Jazz Messengers’ esthetic. The performances could also be interpreted as “safe,” but that would be a bit inaccurate. Each soloist is giving an honest musical rendering of a style that most modern jazz fans are very familiar with. While Maya may not push the envelope of the art form, it is full of spirited and truthful performances.
On its own, Maya is a very enjoyable record that can hold a spot in any jazz fan’s heavy rotation, but it may be just as important as a portent of great things to come from David Gibson.
David Gibson Quintet, Tron Theatre, Glasgow
by Rob Adams
November 18 2003
The Tron’s popular Sunday evening jazz spot was the latest beneficiary of Assembly Direct’s policy of introducing much talked about new names from New York alongside Scotland’s own.
In this case, trombonist David Gibson joined three-fifths of trumpeter Colin Steele’s acclaimed quintet – Steele himself making up a poised frontline with Gibson – with drummer Stu Ritchie lending his brand of thoughtful urgency.
Gibson has made an impression Stateside with a debut CD, Maya. His mentors are Slide Hampton, J J Johnson, and Curtis Fuller, each of whom married an ability to manipulate the trombone slide through the most demanding technical geography with a very personal approach, and all of whom were acknowledged here through their compositions, tunes inspired by them, and in Gibson carrying on their good work.
The room’s acoustic didn’t do him many favours. His lower range playing struggled to be heard and his upper range entrances sounded more fierce than intended, but he still managed to impress in building exciting yet logical solos and, particularly on a My Ideal that carried a whiff of Chet Baker’s vocal approach, as a meaningful ballad player. He’s also a composer with, on Renewal’s evidence, a strong line in relaxed elegance.
The home-based musicians made an American introduce them with enthusiasm: Steele typically emphasising his tigerish soloing with balletic shapes; David Milligan overcoming a reluctant piano with marvellous invention; and bassist Aidan O’Donnell rooting the music with an immaculate pulse.
David Gibson | Nagel-Heyer Records
a review from allaboutjazz.com
By Jack Bowers
Trombonist David Gibson makes an auspicious impression on Maya, his handsome tone and superior technique summoning thoughts of the late great J.J. Johnson and a couple of Gibson’s primary influences, Curtis Fuller and Slide Hampton. As one expects from Nagel Heyer, the music is solidly in the mainstream with half a dozen well-framed compositions by Gibson complementing one (“New Level”) by trumpeter John Sneider and the standards “What”s New” and “Speak Low” (the last taken at an agreeably rapid tempo). Among Gibson’s charts I like the boppish “Snide Remarks” and “Solid State” best, but none of the others is less than engaging. The sidemen, except for tenor Wayne Escoffery, were new to me but they’re a well-knit group who zig and zag eagerly through and around the changes without once dropping the ball. Pianist Jeremy Manasia knows how to turn a phrase to his advantage, while Sneider and Escoffery reinforce Gibson well, delivering a number of persuasive statements that help enliven the proceedings. Even though drummer Tony Leone is a tad splashy at times, he and bassists Peter Hartman or Dwayne Burno are on the whole quite supple and at ease in their back-up role. Gibson has everyone on board for most of the ride, reserving only Johnny Burke / Bobby Haggart”s poignant “What’s New” for himself (and the rhythm section). Gibson says he chose the ballad after listening to J.J. Johnson, with other tunes inspired by friends and loved ones – “Big John” for John Farnsworth, “Solid State” for bassist Bob Stata, “Maya” for six-year-old daughter Maya Ann Gibson, “Tre” for Vincent Ruggiero III, “Snide Remarks” for trumpeter and longtime friend Sneider. The closer, “Indomitable,” recorded in New York City on September 9, 2001, is dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11 and their loved ones. A colorful fifty minutes-plus of well-upholstered small-group Jazz.
Review by : Stan Pethel, Berry College
for the International Trombone Association Quarterly Journal, Volume 31, Number 4 October 2003
Have no fear—jazz performance is safely in the hands of a new generation of players with outstanding chops, grounded in the foundations of the past, and with new musical expressions to present.
This CD features trombonist David Gibson with a solid supporting cast in perhaps the favorite jazz medium for many: tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, and rhythm. Seven of the nine songs are written and arranged by Gibson. They are great tunes with interesting melodic lines, solid chord changes, and tasteful arrangements that are to the point and balanced. All of the tunes are well stated, the solos are the perfect length, and the musical styles are varied and never overstated.
Trombonists will find the jazz standard, What’s New, a favorite in that it features solo trombone throughout, showcasing David Gibson’s beautiful tone and warm expressive playing.
It is evident that these players have had some modern influences with the smooth feel of New Level and the jazz funk style of Solid State, but they are thoroughly grounded in the basics. The blend of the three horns and the crisp clean playing of the rhythm section keeps the music centered.
In the liner notes Gibson refers fondly to several jazz greats such as Slide Hampton, J.J. Johnson, and Curtis Fuller. It is obvious that he has learned from the masters. They would and should be proud to know that the torch has been passed to a worthy recipient.