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June 2005

Terry Gibbs
52nd and Broadway: Songs of the Bebop Era
Mack Avenue Records

Terry Gibbs, the Energizer Bunny of jazz, has a loving tribute to his favorite language, undiluted bebop: 52nd & Broadway (Mack Avenue). It's a paean to bop's architects, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, with ample solos by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, saxophonist James Moody, flutist Sam Most, pianist Tom Ranier and, of course, mallet man Gibbs, who seems to be growing younger.

Phil Kelly's arrangement of "If You Could See Me Now" provides a lush background (20 strings and three French horns) for Gibbs and Most. Later, Kelly arranges the strings to re-create, at Dizzy-ing speed, Parker's original "Groovin' High" solo. Ranier, showing instrumental versatility on alto sax, dominates "Cherokee" as he and trumpeter Howie Shear resurrect Diz and Bird; and then Ranier takes a piano solo. Gibbs and Most offer Scat 101 on "Lemon Drop." Payton shines on "Night in Tunisia," but the impeccably phrased strings steal the track with an astonishing cloning of Bird's historic entry, again scored by Kelly. In fact, just check out those strings on any track.

Originally published in June 2005
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