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Multiple layers of jazz history, and tendrils of legacies, radiate from the ambitious new project by drummer and bandleader Gerry Gibbs, including one unfortunate twist: This project is now officially the final recording date of Chick Corea, who died in February. Corea was enticed into the project after hearing Gibbs’ impressive 2020 album Emotional Pandemic, its 18 tracks written and performed by Gibbs on all instruments.
The two-disc Songs From My Father began as a tribute to Gibbs’ now 96-year-old father, bebop vibes master and composer Terry, tapping 18 tunes from the elder Gibbs’ songbook going back to the 1949 classic “T&S.” Other highlights of the decades-spanning program include the soul-jazz of “Hippie Twist,” the tender ballad “Lonely Dreams” and “Hey Chick,” with a snippet of Terry’s original 1961 recording seamlessly flown in.
An all-star aggregation of jazz masters comprise the fluid entity that is Gerry Gibbs’ Thrasher Dream Trio, with iterations including Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Buster Williams and Christian McBride. In addition to Larry Goldings’ golden touch on Hammond B-3, Gibbs’ regular piano comrades Geoff Keezer and Patrice Rushen also participate. Still, our ears and hearts naturally seek out the Corea tracks. He appears in bright, agile form on “Bobstacle Course” and “Waltz for My Children”; lent some arrangement ideas; and contributed the one non-Gibbs composition, “Tango for Terry,” an apt and idiomatically Corea-esque album-closer.
Ultimately, Songs From My Father turns out to be a double tribute, to one living legend and to one recently departed, both of whom are deeply embedded in jazz’s DNA. Feature photo of Ron Carter, Gerry Gibbs and Kenny Barron courtesy the artists