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CD Review: Tom Gibbs – Fear of Flying

Tom Gibbs – Fear of Flying
(Whirlwind Recordings WR4626. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Featuring a sparky, tight band – leader/composer Tom Gibbs, saxophonist Will Vinson, bassist Euan Burton and drummer James Maddren – this is an album very much in Whirlwind’s ‘house style’: gutsy, full-on, but consistently musicianly.

Vinson himself, a fluent, eloquent pianist whose playing is imbued with the robust lyricism associated with his mentor John Taylor, describes his approach in a refreshingly down-to-earth manner: ‘I usually start off with some chords that attract me, then I’m playing away and singing at the piano until a tune sticks.’ His compositions are consequently characterised by both the accessibility of popular song but also the quirkiness that springs from such an informal method.

Vinson’s agility on both alto and soprano suits the often tricksy material well, and with (long-time associate) Burton and the ever-vigilant and robust but sensitive Maddren, Gibbs has assembled a highly sympathetic and propulsive rhythm team.

Various musical bases, from hints of the blues and Scottish reels to neo-bop, are touched throughout this lively album, but what really impresses is the commitment, coherence and sheer pep of the quartet as they address Gibbs’s intelligently varied programme.

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