Tobias Gebb & Trio West: An Upper West Side Story (2008)
Showing that its debut album Trio West Plays Holiday Songs (Yummy House, 2007) was no fluke, leader Tobias Gebb begins this album with a direct homage to Ahmad Jamal on his medley of "Poinciana/What Time Is It?" Not only does pianist Eldad Zvulun employ Jamal's idiosyncratic use of spacing but drummer Gebb is all a-chatter with Vernell Fournier-like flourishes, notably at the start and finish of this tune but also throughout the presentation. Zvulun is given another chance to shine on the bossa nova original from Gebb that follows, "Brasil Bela."
This album provides not only healthy dollops of the trio, but in addition, Gebb arranges for tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and vocalist Champian Fulton to make several guest appearances. The net effect of their presence gives a richness and variety to the album. Frahm first appears on Gebb's "The Barnyard" with a swaggering solo and Fulton's first appearance is a vocal on Peter DeRose's "Autumn Serenade" that hasn't been heard much since the 1963 version by Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane. Frahm also provides some nice fills on this track.
One of Tobias Gebb's best assets is his use of the brushes which he aptly demonstrates throughout the album, notably on the Neal Hefti composition "Cute," which has served as a tour de force for many percussionists.
The trio continues to entertain with its versions of several standards and additional tunes from Gebb. Lennon/McCartney's concluding "And I Love Her" is presented in a "Quiet Village"-type lounge setting, leaving the intention unclear. The hidden untitled track is an inexplicable catharsis of barnyard noises with no apparent meaning in the context of this fine album.
Track Listing: Poinciana, What Time Is It?; Brasil Bela; The Barnyard; Star-Crossed Lovers; Autumn Serenade; Cute; Wil'O The Wisp; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; Two By Two; How Deep Is The Ocean; The Monument(Soldiers and Sailors); And I Love Her.
Personnel: Tobias Gebb: drums, arranger; Neal Miner: bass; Eldad Zvulun: piano; Joel Frahm: tenor sax (3, 5, 8, 12); Champian Fulton: vocals (3, 8).