Gerry Gibbs and Thrasher People – Weather or Not
Gerry Gibbs and Thrasher People – Weather or Not (Whaling City Sound)
The music of Weather Report can be unusually challenging to cover, given the specificity of the well-known arrangements, as well as the memorable performances by the players on the original recordings. For Weather or Not, drummer-composer Gerry Gibbs handily overcomes those roadblocks, leading a trio — with pianist Alex Collins and bassist Hans Glawischnig — through refreshing arrangements of a dozen WR tunes on the first CD of an ambitious double-disc set.
On Jaco Pastorius’ “Teen Town,” the original a showcase for the virtuoso bass guitarist and composer, Collins plays the lightning-speed head over fast-walking double bass. The trio then offers a few quick beats of music-box sounds before diving into Collins’ uptempo improv and a section featuring Glawischnig’s inspired soloing. Gibbs takes similar liberties with other WR favorites by Jaco, Joe Zawinul, and Wayne Shorter. The familiar rhythmic riff on “Black Market” is given a bit of a gospel groove, while the opening of “Punk Jazz” retains the manic energy of the original. And Gibbs and company’s redo of the band’s signature tune, “Birdland,” benefits from the open-air feel of the acoustic-electric setting.
On the second disc of the set, the leader takes a tour of his large body of compositions dating back to 1981. Comprising 16 tunes and fragments, it’s a pointedly eclectic mix. The funky, gospel-tinged, clavinet-injected “Kojak” is named for the ’70s detective TV show. In a similar vein sonically, but way more laid-back, “The ’70s Song” salutes pianist Patrice Rushen, a former Gibbs collaborator. Chick Corea’s influence is strongly felt on the hopscotching, Latin-grooving “Just Glad To Be Anywhere,” while the group traverses flamenco terrain on “Joaquin and Pinky,” replete with castanets, before heading to the islands for “St. Marteen” and the calypso-pumped “The Caribbean Song.” Here’s to more of this trio’s creative thrashing.
— Philip Booth