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JAZZ REVIEW : Gibbs Finding Own Voice

January 22, 1994|ZAN STEWART

One time-honored way of establishing an individual voice in modern jazz is to compose your own pieces, and drummer Gerry Gibbs has taken major steps in this direction.

Opening the first of two three-night stands Thursday at Club Brasserie, the youthful New York-based Gibbs presented spirited modern mainstream originals that mostly reached out and drew a listener in, but occasionally didn't.

These tunes were performed with verve by a first-class quartet--Gibbs (son of renowned vibist Terry Gibbs); Billy Childs, piano; Andy Simpkins, bass, and Ravi Coltrane (son of the late John Coltrane), woodwinds.

Gibbs' works were most appealing when he emphasized melody and didn't try to be too tricky. For example, "The Adventures of Mr. Fick" began with a jaunty New Orleans feel--Coltrane on soprano sax sounded like a 1994 version of Crescent City soprano great Sidney Bechet--then segued into a comfortable, easy-grooving mode for natty solos by Childs and Coltrane.

"Miss Nedra Wheeler," dedicated to the up-and-coming L.A. bassist, had a pleasing, earthy quality about it. Less accessible was the overwritten and hard-to-follow "F Train to Bermuda," which mixed a fast straight-ahead feel with an edgy calypso mood, and "The Band of Losers," during which the solo statements were divided by written sections.

Gibbs performs tonight and again Thursday through Saturday, when Patrice Rushen will replace Childs.

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