Mike Gibbs Orchestra – BBC radio broadcast

February 22, 1969

Mike Gibbs Orchestra – BBC radio broadcast

Recorded c. February 1969 Lancaster University; first broadcast 23 February 1969 BBC Radio 3 unissued

Jack Bruce, bass; John Marshall, drums; Phil Lee, guitar; Frank Ricotti, vibes; Roderick Tearl, Henry Lowther, trumpets, flugelhorns; Alan Skidmore, tenor saxophone; John Surman, soprano and baritone saxophones; Dick Hart, tuba; Mike Osborne, alto saxophone; Chris Pyne, Mike Gibbs, trombones; Mike Pyne, piano

Sweet Rain (Gibbs) 5:58
Family Joy, Oh Boy! (Gibbs) 8:19
Nowhere (Gibbs) 7:07
Fly Time High (Gibbs) 10:59
Feelings and Things /June 15th 1967 (Gibbs) 9:54
Liturgy/And On The Third Day (Gibbs) 7:34
Some Echoes, Some Shadows (Gibbs) 9:24


Steve Voce, in Jazz Journal 22/5 (May 1969) wrote: “Gibbs’ band was obviously going to be a good one, as a glance at the line-up indicated. But we had already been fired by some telephone conversations we had had with Mike during the previous couple of weeks. He is quite single-minded in his intensity over music, and such enthusiasm as he showed is inevitably both infectious and awe-inspiring.

Appropriately the evening began with Sweet Rain, featuring John Surman in a muscular and yet delicate reading of this lovely ballad. Surman’s command of the soprano is as complete as his mastery of the baritone, and his pithy opening statement was backed by Phillip Lee’s delicately-chorded guitar and John Marshall’s drums. As Surman reached the end of his solo the orchestra came in and right away set the tone of the evening in a beautifully-orchestrated passage. Mike Osborne, an altoist who improves with every hearing, came next, backed strongly by Jack Bruce’s bass-guitar. Bruce was most impressive throughout this concert, although there is something dogmatic about the electric bass which seems to impair its flexibility. His performance on the legitimate bass on the NJO’s LP was, from my point of view, far more imposing.

Alan Skidmore came next, with his tenor skirling confidently and economically in a solo which, like most of his work that evening, had the aura of early Coltrane, while somehow remaining independent of any substantial influence.

The next piece, Family Joy, Oh Boy, was a simple theme which rocketed along with great drive, and provided a great leaping-pad for Bruce’s guitar. After the orchestra had stated the theme, it was repeated in fairly deadpan fashion by Frank Ricotti’s vibes and then given over to ta torrential solo by Bruce, which would have been quite impossible on the orthodox bass.

Fly Time High (Sigh) was written by Gibbs in 1961 while he was at Berklee with Gary Burton, and it had a melodic sweetness which much reflected Burton’s thinking. Two other pieces written for Burton, Feeling And Things and June 15th 1967 also made their appearance, but the high spot of the concert were the two pieces which Gibbs tells me were inspired by the French composer Messiaen, Liturgy and And On The Third Day, the latter in particular a most substantial work. Mike was at great pains to emphasise that he in no way attempted to reflect the religious inspiration of Messiaen. It might not have been religios, but the performance of And On The Third Day was certainly inspired, and made one hope that Verve will now go chasing after the Gibbs orchestra to catalogue alongside the New Jazz Orchestra.”


One Response to “Mike Gibbs Orchestra – BBC radio broadcast”

  1. This broadcast was one of the seminal moments of my life. I listened to it one afternoon in my hall of residence at Liverpool University and made a recording with a primitive Phillips cassette recorder.

    Although this was over forty years ago, I have never tired of listening to the performance. In my opinion the performance was vastly superior to the subsequent LP.

    One of the things that made the difference was the inspired playing of Jack Bruce.

    Do the BBC have the original tape ? If so they should be persuaded to broadcast it again or make it available to purchase or download.

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