Progressive Big Band / Jazz Related Soundtracks / Fusion / Vocal Jazz / Post-Fusion Contemporary • Zimbabwe
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Mike Gibbs is a composer, arranger and trombonist. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Boston, he has worked with many of the leading lights of the music world including Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Michael Mantler, Mike Stern, Joni Mitchell, Whitney Houston and Peter Gabriel. Mike Gibbs was born September 25th, 1937, in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) and grew up playing trombone and piano. In 1959 he relocated to the USA, where he enrolled at Berklee College of Music, Boston. In the summer of 1960 he obtained a full scholarship to Lenox School of Jazz, where he studied with Gunther Schuller, George Russell and J.J.Johnson. He graduated from Boston Conservatory of Music (B.Mus) in 1963 and subsequently secured a full scholarship at Tanglewood Summer School where he studied with the likes of Aaron Copland, Iannis Xenakis, Gunther Schuller and Lukas Foss. By this stage he had read more...
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MIKE GIBBS Discography

MIKE GIBBS albums / top albums

MIKE GIBBS Michael Gibbs album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Michael Gibbs
Progressive Big Band 1970
MIKE GIBBS Tanglewood 63 album cover 3.55 | 2 ratings
Tanglewood 63
Progressive Big Band 1971
MIKE GIBBS Michael Gibbs & Gary Burton : In The Public Interest album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Michael Gibbs & Gary Burton : In The Public Interest
Fusion 1974
MIKE GIBBS Directs The Only Chrome-Waterfall Orchestra album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Directs The Only Chrome-Waterfall Orchestra
Fusion 1975
MIKE GIBBS Housekeeping album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1987
MIKE GIBBS Big Music album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Music
Progressive Big Band 1988
MIKE GIBBS Iron & Silk album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Iron & Silk
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1991
MIKE GIBBS By The Way album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
By The Way
Progressive Big Band 1993
MIKE GIBBS Hard-Boiled album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1993
MIKE GIBBS Being Human album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Being Human
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1994
MIKE GIBBS Century / Close My Eyes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Century / Close My Eyes
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1994
MIKE GIBBS Europeana - Jazzphony No. 1 (with Joachim Kühn) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Europeana - Jazzphony No. 1 (with Joachim Kühn)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1995
MIKE GIBBS Nonsequence album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Progressive Big Band 2001
MIKE GIBBS Here's A Song For You (with NDR Bigband feature Norma Winstone) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Here's A Song For You (with NDR Bigband feature Norma Winstone)
Vocal Jazz 2011
MIKE GIBBS Back In The Days (with NDR Bigband) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Back In The Days (with NDR Bigband)
Progressive Big Band 2012
MIKE GIBBS Mike Gibbs + 12 play Gil Evans album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mike Gibbs + 12 play Gil Evans
Progressive Big Band 2013
MIKE GIBBS In My View album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In My View
Progressive Big Band 2015

MIKE GIBBS EPs & splits

MIKE GIBBS live albums

MIKE GIBBS Just Ahead album cover 3.08 | 3 ratings
Just Ahead
Progressive Big Band 1972
MIKE GIBBS Play a Bill Frisell Set List album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Play a Bill Frisell Set List
Progressive Big Band 2015
MIKE GIBBS Symphony Hall Birmingham 1991 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Symphony Hall Birmingham 1991
Progressive Big Band 2018
MIKE GIBBS Michael Gibbs With The Gary Burton Quartet : Festival 69 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Michael Gibbs With The Gary Burton Quartet : Festival 69
Fusion 2018
MIKE GIBBS Revisiting Tanglewood 63 : The Early Tapes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Revisiting Tanglewood 63 : The Early Tapes
Progressive Big Band 2021

MIKE GIBBS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

MIKE GIBBS Gregory's2Girls album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1999

MIKE GIBBS re-issues & compilations

MIKE GIBBS singles (0)

MIKE GIBBS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)



Live album · 1972 · Progressive Big Band
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Sean Trane
After the ambitious orchestral Tanglewood 63 album, Gibbs had participated to a few projects with other songwriters like Ian Carr or Graham Collier, but his band remained active, and this Just Ahead album is the logical continuation of his solo/leader career. Recorded live over one week, during a Ronnie Scott club residency in the spring of 71, Just ahead is a double disc affair that features the usual London scene suspects and a few other stalwarts, including Lowther, Beckett, Wheeler, Skidmore, Griffiths, Pyne and Warleigh on winds, and McRae or Taylor on piano, Chris Spedding on guitar, and Ricotti, Marshall and Babbington in the rhythm section. Yes, you’ve also noticed that most of these guys (including Gibbs himself) were Nucleus partakers, whether leaving or arriving as the first line-up was breaking down. Only Jenkins and Carr seem to be missing. Apparently on some nights, judging by the crowd applause, there were more musicians on stage than audience members. Throughout the sets, you can see that Gibbs is still fairly influenced by his Berklee School, and that the covers from Jarrett, Bley, Swallow, and Burton are still a significant part of his persona.

Opening on Keith Jarrett Grow Your Own piece, Chris Spedding sends us into the stratosphere with his rather loud and rocky lengthy guitar solo and drives the piece at 100 MPH, the band rather forced to follow suit. The much more reflective Three is giving an entirely different facet of the 15-man line-up. As its name hints, Country Roads still carries a few C&W reminiscence (Spedding’s twang-y slide guitar, for ex), but the blues is right next door and pushes its welcome a bit too long, even if McRae’s Rhodes solo is rather interesting on a blues piece. The slow and sinister Carla Bley track of Mother Of The Dead s up-next, but thankfully the following Just A Head (the album’s name is a pun on that track) restores some of the momentum lost, with Skidmore’s over–the-top sax solo and the rapid-fire bass line of Babbington. Not the easiest of tracks, but in some ways, it is the most interesting of the first disc, especially in the closing movement and the pompous Fanfare finale.

The second disc features only three tracks, opening on the Nowhere with a slow percussive (Marshall and Ricotti) intro, where the horns slowly force their way into the grand scheme, but Marshall won’t let them as he clutches-in the turbo and drums away most of the rest of the track. The second and lengthy (13-mins) bluesy track Sing Me Softly (a Paul & Carla Bley song) is a much slower affair, but it allows some breathing and relaxation space, thus paving the way for the much more difficult fusion-y and later-dissonant So Long Gone (over 20-mins), and things go completely improvised between McRae (as he would do in Matching Mole) and Marshall.

Long unavailable, the BGO label has reissued it as a double CD affair, with a luxurious sleeve case, and for once, they did keep the original artwork (but still didn’t include the track timings), although one could’ve wished for more pictures from that week’s residency. In either case, Just Ahead is another fine Gibbs project, even if the album sees too much a wide-spectrum, musically-speaking. Definitely not essential, but JA is still a nice collection consolidating piece.

MIKE GIBBS Tanglewood 63

Album · 1971 · Progressive Big Band
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Sean Trane
I think this is Gibbs’ second album as a band-leader, and I should specify as a BIG BAND-leader, because looking at the line-up, it features almost everyone on the London-scene of the times, with a few exceptions. Indeed, there are so many players that he doesn’t even bother to play one, just concentrating on composition and chef d’orchestre. Recorded over two days in late 70, it was released n the Decca subsidiary label Deram, usually reserved for more progressive rock releases, but it received a superb and colourful somewhat-psychedelic artwork on its sleeve (check out the portraits inside the flowers). Just to mention a few musicians present: Wheeler, Beckett, Lowther, Pyne, Roberts, Surman, Skidmore, Smith, Marshall, Thacker, Ricotti, Spedding, Babbington, G. Beck and John Taylor… And that’s roughly the half of it, for I haven’t mentioned the string players.

Three short and rather lively tracks make up the A-side, with the opening Tanglewood 63 the better-known (Colosseum and Jack Bruce, I think) with the famous vibes (here courtesy of Ricotti), the big band mood is a happy one, and the following Fanfare is a joyous and jumpy rampage somewhere between rock and jazz and finishes in a dramatic ending. The 7-mins Sojourn is a much quieter affair, starting almost-symphonic (the string section had been pretty discreet until now) and, to be honest, is a real snooze-fest.

The real meat of the album is on the flipside with the two 10-mins+ epics, starting with the haunting and drone-filled Canticle, originally written for the Canterbury cathedral, and it sounds much more like Beethoven’s Pastorale than an Ellington big band piece. It stays a low-key piece for its 13-mins duration where the strings lay the slow and low foundations; and it contrasts heavily with the next piece. Closing the album is the awesome Five For England, with Chris Spedding’s awesome jazz-rock guitar (he’s a bit louder and wilder than in Nucleus or his own solo album to come Song Without Words), but it’s the whole band that’s out for blood, but it’s really Spedding’s moment, doubled by Gordon Back’s Rhodes. It ends rather oddly with the guitar outroing it out all alone.

Well, Tanglewood is a sonically widespread affair, maybe a tad too much for its own sake and cohesion: but it’s definitely worth a listen, because there aren’t many albums that sounds like it, or even aim in that same sonic target. Somewhere between rock, jazz and classical, this “thing” is difficult to pigeonhole, unless breaking it down by tracks.

MIKE GIBBS Directs The Only Chrome-Waterfall Orchestra

Album · 1975 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Composer-conductor-director Mike Gibbs is back with another ambitious project that mixes horns and strings, but this time the cast is more international and behind the usual UK-scene stalwarts (the usual Pyne, Wheeler, Skidmore, Coe, Sulzmann and Lowther), we also find US-ian Charlie Mariano and Bob Moses, Belgian Phillip Catherine and Jumma Santos among others. The big change is that Gibbs composed just over half the tracks, as he only wrote the opening track on the A-side, but wrote them all on the flipside. Actually the “basic band is a sextet featuring the two foreign musicians and Swallow on bass, Moses on drums, and Gibbs himself on keyboards.

The general spirit of TOCWO is one of a gentle fusion, with strong but episodic horns and some softening string sections passages. After the synth-lead (care of Gibbs himself) Lady Moss track, Phillip Catherine engages is some delicate guitar arpeggios underlined by some soothing strings and a wandering bass line, and we’re fairly close a soft-prog rock realm. Up next, Blackgang is a heavy contrast with its ultra-funky bass line and Catherine’s guitar following it, but the real icing on the cake are the low-brass section adding some real depth, while the high-brass section is soaring gently above. Excellent stuff!! It’s a little sad that the following slow and wheezy Antique track drags on tiredly with Coe’s sleepy sax, but it’s the shortest track of the album.

Over the flipside, the much more dynamic and energetic Undergrowth seems to settle into a groove, but once it’s well established, the band breaks to allow Walker’s electric cello do an Indian-sounding raga where Catherine’s acoustic guitar joins in, but once again established, the mood changes to a percussive and synthesized pattern. The horny Tunnel Of Love opens slowly with Pyne’s trombone, but the heavy string arrangements puts a damper on it, no matter what Mariano’s on sax. The closing Unfinished Sympathy gets started on a wild funky groove with big-band type horn arrangements, shortly breaking away and returning to the even-more-involved groove. Intense and dramatic, Catherine’s guitar shines brightly on the left channel. Definitely the album’s highlight with Blackgang.

Well if you like something a bit out of the ordinary, Gibbs’ albums are often just that, but it’s always difficult to tell ahead of time whether you’re going to appreciate it. I’d tend to say that with the present TOWCO, trad jazzheads should approach cautiously, while it won’t be a shoo-in for fusionheads either, because the strings gives it a slight new-age slant that might not be all that welcome for many, but the highlights might just be worthy of the space on you shelves. Investigate before investing.

MIKE GIBBS Movies Reviews

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