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Gary Campbell - Thick and Thin    $12.95


Gary Campbell - Tenor Sax, John Abercrombie - Guitar, Ron McClure - Bass, Adam Nussbaum - Drums

1. Light Strokes
2. Final Decision
3. Would-be Blues
4. Three-four Fable
5. We'll Be Together Again
6. Con Alma
7. Thick & Thin
8. Veils
9. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
10. Good Bait
Total Time 72:28

Listen to CD Tracks

     For some time now I’ve wanted to return to New York to do a straight ahead jazz record. I had talked with John (Abercrombie) on several occasions about this but it never came together for one reason or another. So, when Jamey D. called and said, “How would you like to do a jazz date on my label?”- I knew it was finally happening.

    Abercrombie, McClure and I had played together many times and for this date it was unanimous - we wanted Adam to play drums. The four of us have known each other since the “loft days” in New York back in the late 60’s - so it was like old home week.

    For me, playing jazz calls for players whose personalities don’t get overshadowed by the tunes. The compositions provide a setting through which the musicians express themselves. Creating, sustaining, and developing a mood while attending to texture and interplay - this is the art and fun of it. The musicians I assembled for this date are all masters of this art and they are in true form.

    John’s playing never ceases to amaze me. Everything he plays swings with his distinctive sound and touch. His solos flow with superb spontaneity and direction. His accompaniment is uncanny, supporting and inspiring the soloist on many levels with melodies, harmonies, space, and humor. He’s deep.

    Ron is one of the most experienced jazz bassists on earth. When we first met (circa “68) he had just finished with Charles Lloyd’s innovative group and has since worked with most of the greats of our time. Within the rhythm section and as a soloist his musical maturity and wisdom are ever present.

    I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind not wanting to play with Adam - burning time, great sound, and profound sense of form. He plays with great insight and is affectionately attentive to the soloist. A creator on every level.

    I wrote five of these tunes, Ron wrote one, and we picked a few standards. When I showed the group my tunes (the day before the date) we played around with them for a while, trying tempos, experimenting a little, deciding on a few general ideas for each tune, and that was that. The following day we went to the studio and blew. Most are first takes, with a few seconds. This is a classic way of recording jazz. It embraces the spontaneity of a live performance (albeit in the studio) and captures the unaffected spark of discovery.

    The Music

    “Light Strokes” - the phrases are like strokes of colored sound or light strokes of color from a painter’s brush. First, short individual motives - then long, sweeping phrases. With a free and easy feel, John pulls out beautiful counter-lines as only he does it. He is a wizard!

    “Final Decision” - Ron’s atmospheric original. I particularly like the low pitched melody (because I love playing the lower part of the tenor) and the way it unfolds the dark chord colors. The mood intensifies as John and Adam stretch out on the final vamp.

    “Would-be Blues” - a kind of mindless line, just to establish a bluesy sound and initiate momentum. This is a simple blowing tune, fast and free. Adam smokes!

    “Three-four Fable” - named so because to me it sounds like an old style story. First, the opening actions followed by the consequences or moral. Make up your own plot.

    “We’ll Be Together Again” is a standard romantic ballad with nice tonal shifts and a lyrical melody. I’ve wanted to play this tune since I first heard the recording by Tony Bennett and Bill Evans- two of my musical idols.

    “Con Alma” - Dizzy Gillespie’s hymn-like classic. The distinctive recurring chord cycle is set to Adam and Ron’s fluid variety of rhythmic superimpositions. From my childhood I remember hearing Dizzy, a master of atmosphere, play this tune live. It left a deep impression. A simple, lovely tune.

    “Thick & Thin” - the mood is set with the bass doubling the tenor while John’s sparse guitar and Adam’s brushes create open space. The texture thickens as the bass digs to the bottom and the guitar moves to join the tenor. Ron’s extended bass solo establishes the tune’s open, angular, swinging feel.

     “Veils” - named thusly because, to me, the harmony suggests a set of tonal curtains, or layers which are set behind recurring melodic phrases. I love John’s insightful and moody chord voicings.

    “You Stepped Out of a Dream” - a great old standard with swinging chord changes. A fun tune for the straight ahead burn.

    “Good Bait” - Tadd Dameron’s speach-like melody - a really fun tune to play, especially with this quartet. Check out John’s ”Quentin Tarantino” touches.

    I consider it no less than an honor (not to mention a hell of alot of fun) to play this music with these great musicians.  Being with friends always makes for a comfortable and jovial time. Hats off to Jamey D. for providing us with a loose and relaxed date.

Gary Campbell - August, 1996

Gary's jazz career began in Indianapolis where jazz greats such as J. J., Slide, Freddie and the Montgomery brothers all started. Migrating to New York in the late 60's, he giged and recorded with many of the pioneers of his generation. Gary moved to Miami in '82 where he now resides.