Nicholas Payton, trumpet; James Moody, tenor and alto sax; Sam Most, flute; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Tom Ranier, piano; Dave Carpenter, bass
Terry Gibbs has been playing vibes at full throttle since he joined Woody Herman's "Four Brothers band" in 1948, the dawn of the bebop era. This recording is a creative tribute to the music of that era, a generation of virtuosity & experimentation.
On 52nd & Broadway Gibbs presents a formidable concept - 12 bebop standards with a first class rhythm section and strings. Of course it's been done before, for instance, Charlie Parker or Clifford Brown with strings. But not like this... The four arrangers (include Med Flory of Supersax fame) had to fill three of Gibbs' requirements. "They had to know,"says Gibbs, "bebop, big bands and strings." The sixteen violins, four violas and four cellos act as surrogates for the reed and brass section of a big band. In other words they need to swing with force and precision and they pull it off surprisingly well.
The most remarkable and entertaining moments on this recording occur on George Wallington's "Lemon Drop" where Gibbs and (shamefully underrated) flutist Sam Most scat with distinctly different styles and as usual for Gibbs, lots of energy. Overall though, James Moody takes the solo honors.
No, this hasn't been done before and it works...a labor of love for this music by a musician with sixty-five recordings to his credit. 52nd & Broadway might be the most interesting of them all.
by David Heymann
New Sounds - October 2004
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