Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Name is Mike Gibbs

Went to a really inspiring gig by jazz and film composer Mike Gibbs and his Big Band at the Royal Northern College of Music last night. It was very powerful and potent stuff right from the off and immediately upped the excitement levels. To my ears much of the earlier part of the first set was classic 1960s sounding stuff and had me picturing spy's in black and white movies shuffling about near the Berlin Wall . The star studded cast included guitarist Bill Frisell, bass player Steve Swallow, sax players Chris Hunter and Stan Sulzmann and drummer Adam Nussbaum who were all on great form. Adam was really enjoying himself and the energy in his playing was quite infectious. The second set included some more contemplative and unusual pieces along with some rousing standards including an arrangement of Miles' arrangements of Monk's 'Round about Midnight' and Parker's 'Au Privavé'. 'Matter of Fact', a new track complete with a cool repeating 7/4 figure was stretching Mike's conducting skills to the limit. The picked line from Frisell echoed on the piano concluded the track in a most satisfying way. I'll be buying the record this track is on for sure.

Mike Gibbs is the stuff of legend being born in Zimbabwe and trained at the famous Berklee College in Boston, where he continued as Composer in Residence for many years. He has written and arranged for many of the jazz greats over the years including Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin to name just two.

We went along with guitar tutor Mike. A fair few other members of the MCR jazz posse were in attendance including Andy Schofield, Iain Dixon, Nick Mellor, Sam Smith, Jo McCallum and Anton Hunter. Mike, Iain and Andy have all worked with Mike Gibbs in the past, Mike and Iain having played on the 1996 album 'By The Way'. A few drinks in the RNCM bar after the gig confirmed it was a bit of a classic. Some professed to be very inspired and promised to put pen to manuscript paper or fire up Sibelius on getting home. I had a good chat with Mick and Steve who run NWJazzworks and the Manchester Jazz Festival and who I'd alerted earlier that day to the blog awards and recent press this blog has had. Looks like I may possibly get involved in working with them in some way which would be great. A most pleasant evening all round.

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