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JAZZ REVIEWS : Gibbs Quartet Lacks Cohesion

August 29, 1994|ZAN STEWART and * Gerry Gibbs plays Thursday - Saturday, 9 and 11 p.m., at the Club Brasserie, Bel Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd . , West Hollywood. $7.50 cover charge, no minimum. Information: (310) 854-1111.

At the beginning of the year, New York-based drummer Gerry Gibbs came to his former hometown and played two Thursday-through-Saturday gigs at the Club Brasserie with a solid quartet, performing modern mainstream stuff that sounded pretty darn good, even on opening night.

Back again for a similar stint at the same room, Gibbs got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Though he used two of the people who were here last time--sax man Ravi Coltrane and pianist Patrice Rushen (she played one week then, Billy Childs the other)--his quartet lacked cohesion.

Individually, the musicians all played well. Gibbs delivers brisk, clean time, Coltrane works with a buoyant, round tone, Rushen offered sparkling chains of notes, and bassist Derek Oles issued firm bottom tones.

But during that first set, the players rarely jelled as a band. Reading Gibbs' sometimes difficult though expressive originals, the musicians appeared under-rehearsed, scrambling first to make their way through the heady material, and worrying about unity second.

Perhaps Gibbs was setting his sights too high. Tunes such as the stop-and-start "The Band of Losers" were interesting but demanding, and would challenge any group of musicians, not to mention listeners. But songs like these don't readily establish a groove--that flow which allows musicians, especially those that don't often play together, to get comfortable and feel each other out.

"Silence After the Ear," a lyrical piece played over a resilient thack-a-whack bossa-rock beat, was in decided contrast. Here, everyone relaxed as Coltrane offered elastic tones that soared like a hawk seeking prey over chaparral, and Rushen dropped in chords that chattered quietly. More numbers like this would help both the musicians interact, and reach the audience.

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