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NZSM Special Music Forum – Mike Gibbs


Thu 2 Oct 2014, 12:10pm–1:00pm

Where: NZSM Concert Hall, Block 1, Massey University, Entrance C, Wallace Street, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

In this special free Music Forum event, Associate Professor Norman Meehan will interview the legendary Mike Gibbs, who is undertaking a week-long residency at NZSM working with students in the Jazz programme.

Mike Gibbs is a composer, arranger and trombonist. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Boston, he has worked with many of the leading lights of the music world including Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Michael Mantler, Mike Stern, Joni Mitchell, Whitney Houston and Peter Gabriel. 

Born in 1937, in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) he grew up playing trombone and piano. In 1959 he relocated to the USA, where he enrolled at Berklee College of Music, Boston. He graduated from Boston Conservatory of Music (B.Mus) in 1963 and subsequently secured a full scholarship at Tanglewood Summer School where he studied with the likes of Aaron Copland, Iannis Xenakis, Gunther Schuller and Lukas Foss.

In 1964 Mike moved from the USA to the UK where he went on to play trombone for the likes of Tubby Hayes, Graham Collier, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. He also worked as a studio musician for radio, television, film and music albums, as well as doing arranging work in these contexts. Between 1968 and 1974 he worked with his own bands, playing concerts, clubs and radio broadcasts in UK and Europe; he also performed his music with radio bands of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hamburg and with the Hannover Radio Symphony. In the early 70's he won several Melody Maker Awards, including First Composer, Best Big Band, Musician of the Year, First Arranger and his own album In the Public Interest was voted Best Album of 1974. 

By the late 1960’s Mike Gibbs was generally recognised as being one of the leading composer/arrangers in Jazz. He had already absorbed his main influences (Gil Evans, Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen) and found his own sound and style. His buoyant rock rhythms and his use of assymetry anticipated the jazz-rock movement of the 1970's. His composition Sweet Rain has been recorded many times (Stan Getz, Stephane Grappelli, Gary Burton, Randy Weston et al) and is now something of a jazz standard. 

Mike returned to the USA to take up the post of Composer-In-Residence at Berklee College of Music from 1974-83. He moved back to London in '85 and in 1988 he resumed recording with his own ensembles, resulting in the highly praised Big Music album for Virgin/Venture; he also returned to live performance, notably in 1991 with John Scofield for a UK national tour and in 1995 with Gary Burton and the NDR Big Band for a radio concert. 

Over the years, Mike Gibbs has composed and arranged music for films, television, albums, ballet, jazz groups, symphony orchestras and is equally conversant in modern, traditional, jazz and classical styles. Other projects include arranging and conducting a concert of Ellington music in Weimar with Gary Burton and NDR Big Band and Radio Symphony Orchestra; and for the academic year 1999/2000, taking up a part-time professorship in Jazz Composition and Arranging at the Sibelius Academy Jazz Dept. in Helsinki.

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