Saturday, June 25, 2011
Heavy Metal Be-Bop #4: Melvin Gibbs
I'm proud to present the fourth installment of this ongoing series. Thanks as always to Cosmo Lee at Invisible Oranges for his design/layout expertise and for playing host, and thanks, of course, to the subject himself, Melvin Gibbs.
I have to say, I've rarely had more fun preparing for an interview. I knew a bit of Rollins Band back in the early-to-mid '90s, but I definitely wasn't savvy enough as a teenager to hear the outfit as a "combination of Funkadelic and King Crimson," as Gibbs brilliantly describes it. And though I may have been vaguely aware of Gibbs's presence in the group, I didn't have a clue what his history was.
Street Priest by Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society (thanks to Steve Smith for digging this out), Seize the Rainbow by Sonny Sharrock, Strange Meeting by Power Tools, I Am a Man by Harriet Tubman, For You - For Us - For All by SociaLybrium. These are just a few of the great records Gibbs has made, and I'm still discovering more (e.g., Ellery Eskelin's Ten, which I can't wait to hear). He is a hero of a movement that doesn't have a name: postfusion, hardcore-informed, noise-embracing, funk-loving.
Currently, Gibbs works with Harriet Tubman—check out their new Sunnyside release, a 2000 live interpretation of Coltrane's Ascension with special guests—which played at Undead Jazzfest just the other night. If anyone caught the set, I'd love to hear about it via the comments. He also just completed a tour of Europe with Encryption, his trio with Vernon Reid and Ronald Shannon Jackson (you can hear an exclusive live track on the interview page at Invisible Oranges). Keep up with Gibbs via Tumblr, Bandcamp (where you can hear two full albums by recent Gibbs-led all-star projects) and Twitter.
P.S. As of this writing, two more Heavy Metal Be-Bop interviews are complete and in the queue. Stay tuned!