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Free At Last by Tobias Gebb & Unit 7

Drummer Tobias Gebb and his all-star band merge traditional small ensemble jazz swing attributes with a modern day hip factor. With this release, Gebb hires formidable horns players, including alto sax great Bobby Watson, tenor saxophonists Joel Frahm, Rob Blake and several performers alternating on a per track basis. Gebb shines as a sensitive accompanist amid his crisp and vibrant attack, shaded with cunning dynamics. And the musicians’ buoyant phrasings translate into a happening string of events, where various genres are fused into the jazz realm.

Overall, Gebb assists with injecting a fluid tone throughout the program. On "My Love," the artists render a Latin-hued ballad via the warm horns choruses. With "Spitball," Gebb notes the Billy Strayhorn influenced voicings within the liners, but the jazz-boogie metrics draw some similarities to trumpet legend, Lee Morgan’s classic, "Sidewinder." Gebb mixes it up nicely while morphing calypso and various formats, highlighted by fierce breakouts and snappy themes, largely engineered with memorable melodies.

Frahm, Watson, saxophonist Ron Blake, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and other soloists, inject their signature sounds into the broad spectrum. And the divergent track mix is consummated by Gebb’s crafty jazz-pop arrangement of The Beatles’ "Tomorrow Never Knows, where guest artist and sitarist Neel Murgai renders a classic indo-rock, psychedelic vibe.

Gebb’s refreshing approach to the jazz vernacular is commendable. This engagement should enjoy widespread appeal to traditionalists and progressive-jazz aficionados. Where many others seemingly go through the motions or run on autopilot, Gebb’s all-encompassing game-plan strikes a resonant chord.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tobias Gebb & Unit 7
  • CD Title: Free At Last
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Yummy House Records
  • Musicians: Tobias Gebb (drums), Bobby Watson (alto saxophone), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet and flugelhorn), Ron Blake (tenor saxophone), Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone), Stacy Dillard (tenor saxophone), Mark Gross (alto saxophone), Ugonna Okegwo, (acoustic bass), Neal Miner (acoustic bass), Neel Murgai (sitar) Eldad Zvulun (piano)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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