One Track Mind: Kenny Barron, Gerry Gibbs and Ron Carter, “Promises, Promises” from Thrasher Dream Trio (2013)

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A guy with the amount of respect and credentials as a composer, bandleader, arranger and drummer as Gerry Gibbs can more the hold his own in the presence of anybody. That doesn’t mean that Gibbs can’t be giddy about leading of a trio with not one but two living legends of jazz in pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ron Carter. Both have made some great records in the 60s and beyond, later serving as the inspiration for two or three generations of jazz musicians who’ve followed.

The Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio is a dream come true for anybody who plays jazz, but Gibbs didn’t make this record to merely put a feather in his cap, he smartly utilized their vast abilities with modern, dynamic arrangements full of intricacies that never sound labored. Most of these songs are covers, mostly from the decade of Barron’s and Carter’s emergence, and a couple of them come from the pop canon. One of those is one of Hal David’s and Burt Bacharach’s overlooked gems, “Promises, Promises.”

“Promises, Promises” is actually a song from my earliest memories, as my Dad had the 1968 Dionne Warwick album of the same name. The title song made the top 20 for Warwick but it was never one of her — or David/Bacharach’s — best known songs. Maybe that’s because the song is busier than their usual fare and the brassy arrangement adds bombast that people are more accustomed to hearing in a musical. No coincidence, as that and a couple of other tunes from the album were written for the Promises, Promises musical.

I rather like the busy-ness and the bombast, the unevenly-paced verses leading up to a dramatic chorus. It’s a rather sophisticated piece of work by one of pop’s fabled songwriting duos.

Gibbs’ arrangement of the song does it justice without rote replication. A sweetly swinging waltz underpinned by Gibbs’ crisp brush work, Barron sails through the descending figures and then launches in a solo that is breezy and melodic. Carter pulls the song briefly into a 4/4 side alley and the three come out of it fluidly. Finally, at the end, that long-awaited crescendo arrives and the song wraps up nice and clean.

That’s the kind of magic that happens when two old legends and one very accomplished veteran get together on some great material. And the rest of the album lives up to those promises, too.

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Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio is now on sale, by Whaling City Sound.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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