Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday Bash A Blast At Birmingham's CBSO Centre

 JW-mike-gibbs-80th-birmingham-009-by-john-watson

In celebration of his 80th year, the composer and arranger Mike Gibbs took his big band out on the road, to play a select six-date UK tour. His actual birthday was 25th September, the night of the band's first of two performances at London's Vortex, but three days later at Birmingham's CBSO Centre perhaps this assemblage was drilled even deeper.

Gibbs is strangely borderless, actually born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but spending many of his years either in the US or the UK. As a result, his accent and demeanour are strangely without obvious geographic placement. His music also embraces characteristics found in the large scale works from Britain and America, as well as featuring a significant African influence. Gibbs has also been consistently open to funk and rock elements, the strongest model being Gil Evans, who remains his key colouristic guru.

The line-up of this big band is a testament to the respect that Gibbs commands, with a particularly impressive saxophone section, featuring Julian Siegel, Alex Garnett, Jason Yarde and John O'Gallagher. Gibbs is concentrating on his arranging side for this tour, chiefly using the works of other composers as a basis for painting his thoughtful layers, and strategically deploying the soloing ranks.

JW-mike-gibbs-bigband-musicians-017-by-john-watson

Opening with 'You Go To My Head', from 1938, it seems like the natural choice to have Garnett take the solo, with his expert command of vintage jazz voicings. Paying tribute to old colleague Kenny Wheeler, Gibbs offers his own ''Tis As It Should Be', with the trumpet section highlighted as each of them steps forward to take a solo, led by Henry Lowther. In actuality, it's their flugel horns that are chosen to deliver this glowing sequence. The acoustics of the CBSO Centre are particularly suited to this multi-faceted ensemble spread, and the low-level amplification reveals all players in equal measure.

Gibbs polishes his player-parts, crafting a burnished, carefully layered and regimented spread. Next come Bill Frisell's 'Throughout' and 'Las Vegas Tango', by Gil Evans, running into each other with Jim Rattigan's accordion playing a prominent part, in the Gil Goldstein manner. Guitarist Mike Walker sends keening strokes into the ether, which Siegel snatches, maintaining the tonal character with a voluptuous tenor solo. A rousing horn section punctuation develops, bringing the piece to its climax, as Garnett joins for added emphasis. It gradually becomes apparent that a favoured Gibbs technique is to prompt an initial solo, and subsequently trigger another player to enter the fray at a crucial point, emphasising and heightening the drama.

As if cheerfully embracing his senior status, Gibbs appears to reject the concept of a set-list, though he does have a neatly stacked selection of scores. He delights in questioning his players over this or that detail, almost as if he's exaggerating the abstract forgetfulness of the elderly. Pianist Hans Koller is a long-standing cohort, here acting as 'musical director', and filling in any pieces of missing information. Even so, there's absolutely no doubt when it comes to Gibbs and his sensitive hand gestures, riding each piece with precision sensitivity.

Eberhard Weber's 'Maurizius' has a dancing, loquacious alto solo from O'Gallagher, ending on a gradually fading ensemble repeat. Yarde solos on a new arrangement of 'Django', by John Lewis of The Modern Jazz Quartet, with a two-part solo to follow (trombone and muted trumpet), Walker churning up a groove, locked together with drummer Andrew Bain and chief tour-assembler and bassman Michael Janisch. The final explosive run is provided by Yarde, with a writhing solo reprise, as the versatile Rattigan sends soft notes hanging via French horn resonance. Not surprisingly, John Scofield's 'Meant To Be' acts as a showcase for Walker, with strategic punches provided by the horn ranks. Once it's fully aroused, O'Gallagher weighs in with one of this extended single set's finest searing solos. Gibbs probably overran what might have been an informal curfew, encoring with 'Tennis, Anyone?', amorphous and quietly triumphant. Heading for the two-hour mark, this was a delicious adventure in tonal positioning, roughed up by each individual member's passionate soloing interventions.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by John Watson

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Dutch with UK and Ireland dates

Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Du…

The unique, internationally renowned Instant Composers Pool Orchestra launches Going...

Read More.....
Martin Taylor and Jazz at The Philharmonic concert to save Swanage Jazz Festival

Martin Taylor and Jazz at The Philharmon…

News that this year's 28th edition of the Swanage Jazz...

Read More.....
Nérija, Dinosaur and Jim Mullen among Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Nérija, Dinosaur and Jim Mullen among Pa…

The 13th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place for the...

Read More.....
Hugh Masekela withdraws from Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya concert due to ill health

Hugh Masekela withdraws from Abdullah Ib…

Revered South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela has announced that, due...

Read More.....
Dee Byrne's Entropi Radiate Amid Rough And Tumble At Kings Place Album Launch

Dee Byrne's Entropi Radiate Amid Rough A…

  The most striking thing about Moment Frozen, the second release from British...

Read More.....
Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach fire-up new Eastside Jazz Club

Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach fire-up …

The opening night of Birmingham's new Eastside Jazz Club featured...

Read More.....
James Taylor And Soweto Kinch Among Poetic Masters Of Rhythm And Rhyme At 2017 Limerick Fest

James Taylor And Soweto Kinch Among Poet…

  The Limerick Jazz Festival continues to spring surprises, and to...

Read More.....
Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach, Christine & Ingrid Jensen and Mark Turner head to Birmingham’s Eastside Jazz Club

Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach, Christine …

Jazz in the Midlands got a huge boost with the...

Read More.....
Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday Bash A Blast At Birmingham's CBSO Centre

Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday B…

  In celebration of his 80th year, the composer and arranger...

Read More.....
Mike Carr – 1937-2017

Mike Carr – 1937-2017

Mike Carr, who died on 22 September aged 79, was...

Read More.....
Jazz FM's Sarah Ward, Chris Philips and Nigel Williams up for radio  awards

Jazz FM's Sarah Ward, Chris Philips and …

Two of Jazz FM's longest serving presenters, DJs Sarah Ward...

Read More.....
Joon Moon Exclusive stream of ‘Moonshine Corner’

Joon Moon Exclusive stream of ‘Moonshine…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival features a performance by...

Read More.....
Westbrook and Wakeman line up with the Uncommon Orchestra for A Bigger Show

Westbrook and Wakeman line up with the U…

Although Mike and Kate Westbrook are based in the West...

Read More.....
Afro-Beat Icon Tony Allen Sups At The Jazz Source For Capital Sidewinding Summit

Afro-Beat Icon Tony Allen Sups At The Ja…

One of the distinguishing marks of the London Jazz Cafe's...

Read More.....
Liane Carroll and Claire Martin play Jazz for Labour in Brighton

Liane Carroll and Claire Martin play Jaz…

Jazz for Labour is presenting multi-award winning singers Liane Carroll...

Read More.....
Pianist Millar Shows Promise At Pizza

Pianist Millar Shows Promise At Pizza

  As the example of Artist Share amply demonstrates, crowdfunding initiatives...

Read More.....
Gustafsson's Vinyl-Collecting Confessions Published

Gustafsson's Vinyl-Collecting Confession…

Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson has trawled the archives of his...

Read More.....
WIN three stunning Bill Evans vinyl LP sets by entering the Jazzwise Reader Survey

WIN three stunning Bill Evans vinyl LP s…

We'd love to know what you think of Jazzwise. We...

Read More.....
Zoe Rahman leads Inner City Ensemble with nine new talents on board

Zoe Rahman leads Inner City Ensemble wit…

Leading UK pianist Zoe Rahman is set to head up...

Read More.....
Makaya McCraven, Ashley Henry RE:ENSEMBLE and Theon Cross Trio unite Chicago and London for International Anthems

Makaya McCraven, Ashley Henry RE:ENSEMBL…

Some of the most exciting names from London and Chicago's...

Read More.....
The Write Stuff adds new qualification for young writers aged 18-25

The Write Stuff adds new qualification f…

This year's Write Stuff music journalism course will return for...

Read More.....
Exclusive stream of ‘I Miss You’ – New single from Wayne Shorter produced seven-piece Holophonor

Exclusive stream of ‘I Miss You’ – New s…

Fast emerging US progressive jazz seven-piece Holophonor are set to...

Read More.....
Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2017 nominees announced

Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2017 nominees …

  The nominees for the 2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards have been...

Read More.....
John Jack – 1933-2017

John Jack – 1933-2017

John Jack was one of those figures who seem to...

Read More.....
Liane Carroll, Miles Mosley and Seal for Jazz Voice’s tenth anniversary at EFG London Jazz Festival

Liane Carroll, Miles Mosley and Seal for…

The names have been revealed for this year's 10th edition...

Read More.....
Video Exclusive – 'Forlane' from VEIN Plays Ravel

Video Exclusive – 'Forlane' from VEIN Pl…

Swiss piano trio VEIN release their latest album, VEIN Plays...

Read More.....
Denys Baptiste, Mike Gibbs and ICP Orchestra for Turner Sims autumn/winter programme

Denys Baptiste, Mike Gibbs and ICP Orche…

Southampton's Turner Sims concert hall has a bumper crop of...

Read More.....
Nubya Garcia lines up for Steve Reid Innovation showcase – video preview

Nubya Garcia lines up for Steve Reid Inn…

This year's edition of the Steve Reid Innovation showcase will...

Read More.....
Tom Millar Quartet takes Unnatural Events on tour

Tom Millar Quartet takes Unnatural Event…

Pianist and composer Tom Millar starts his autumn tour this...

Read More.....
Hats off for Stetson's big blowout at Brighton's Duke of York

Hats off for Stetson's big blowout at Br…

  Colin Stetson has enough draw to fill this arthouse cinema...

Read More.....
Giovanni Hidalgo fundraiser at Jazz Cafe cancelled

Giovanni Hidalgo fundraiser at Jazz Cafe…

UPDATE: Since this story was first published (here and in...

Read More.....
Walter Becker 1950-2017

Walter Becker 1950-2017

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen may have been two against...

Read More.....
Robert Glasper, Jaga Jazzist and Aron Ottignon added to EFG London Jazz Fest 25th anniversary Line-Up

Robert Glasper, Jaga Jazzist and Aron Ot…

This year's momentous 25th EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs...

Read More.....
Legacies live on as Sidewinder and Coltrane hit silver screen

Legacies live on as Sidewinder and Coltr…

  September can be a quiet month for music fans, after...

Read More.....
Metropole Orkest Modernise Mingus On Prom Night

Metropole Orkest Modernise Mingus On Pro…

Charlie Mingus famously encouraged musicians to play without charts, creating...

Read More.....
Nick Duckett talks about the Harry South The Songbook – “…a British Quincy Jones”

Nick Duckett talks about the Harry South…

Pub conversations can get you in a world of grief...

Read More.....

ABJazzWise


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@bakedtapes @jazzfm @MusicClerk Or what about Hamsun's Hunger scored by Nils Økland Band or 1982? @HUBROMUSIC… https://t.co/mCq4hvk06y
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@RecCollMag @Unitopiaband Wow, that sleeve!
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA