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Reviews of Exchange - FTR002

Free Jazz Blog - Chris Haines - 19th Feb 2017

Link to original review here (This includes a great review of Phil Gibbs solo album Infinite Spirit Perfect Now)

If Infinite Spirit Perfect Now showcases Gibbs’ solo playing then Exchange clearly demonstrates his contributions as a highly experienced musician within an improvising collective, which he has done so effectively for many years. Gibbs’ style of playing is very empathetic with others playing and his own contributions tend to blend in so well with the overall sound environment that often his highly rhythmic patterns and complex percussive textures tend not to sound like a guitar at all. The group on Exchange consists of Mark Langford (bass clarinet & tenor sax), Roger Skerman (drums), Paul Anstey (bass), Hugh Kirkbride (bass) and Gibbs (electric guitar). It is a similar line-up to the group which released Fringe Music (2014), but incorporating another bass in Kirkbride and with Skerman taking up the drum role instead of Bob Helson.

There are eight tracks on the album, each with a suggestive title such as ‘Scuttle’, ‘Fizzle’ or ‘Stream’. I’m not sure whether these titles were applied afterwards or if they were given before the improvisations for semi-instructive purposes and the connotations that they might hold for a performance. From a listeners point of view it’s very tempting to ‘read’ meaning into these musical events especially with such pregnant titles. Tracks such as ‘Chaser’, a two horse jaunt for the double basses, with its naturally sounding overlapping dialogic phrases, whilst the undulated, growing and then fade out of ‘Ripple’ seems to buy into this thinking. Gibbs’ distorted guitar is at the forefront of ‘Trag’ with it’s pyrotechnic display of wails, screams and swirling waves of uproariousness, making full use of the space that Langford’s tacit sax has left. The last track ‘Bird Fish Snake’ moves away from the more direct improvisational approach, that the rest of the album takes, and bears a distinct free jazz feel to it, with Langford’s sax providing a more linear melodic line over the comped chords of Gibbs’ guitar.

Overall the playing on this album is a careful balance of equality between the sounds and the musicians intent, a true collective, with individual instruments coming to the fore on occasion or by circumstance such as when certain others aren’t playing.

Philip Gibbs seems to have been quite prolific over the years with performances such as these within improvisational collectives, and it is also satisfying to hear his solo work with the craft and creativity that his singular vision brings to this.

Rigobert Dittman - 19th Feb 2017

(This is a fairly literal transalation from the original German! Site is Bad Alchemy review BA 93)

Meanwhile also known as The Exchange Band. By another throw of the dice, bass clarinetist & tenor saxophonist Mark Langford, guitarist Phil Gibbs, drummer Roger Skerman and the double bassists Paul Anstey & Hugh Kirkbride, could result in New Wizard Trio or the Ghost + Flowers 7tet. In short, it is the Bristol improvisation scene, the interrelated exchange of experience and best performance. Langford, along with Will Menter, was involved with the Bristol Musicians Coop in the late 1970s. With "Fringe Music" (FTR 001, 2014) he refreshed the taste of freedom in old friendship. In Anstey, we have another veteran who has been part of the Next Generation of the Brit improv community (influenced by John Stevens & Co.) since the early 80's, with Spirit Level and Thinko Jazz with Langford and - Paul Dunmall, who without Gibbs would be a man without a shadow. Old hares, therefore, with a non-everyday mixture of free crawling, insular Plink-plonk and strikingly lyrical blasts* (*or bubbles). Gibbs is a nimble pricker, Skerman a fluffy tickler, the grumbling doubled bass is therefore sensible as grounding. The knee-high compost provides support for feverish hustle and bustle in the higher regions, with melancholic lyricism flowing from Anstey & Kirkbride’s fingers during their duet 'Chaser'. Gibbs pouring mercury into 'stream', Langford blows windlessly in the willows. With a tense tongue in the middle of rushing sound swirls, he easily negotiates 'Deep End' through the maelstrom. 'Ripple' is rough tenor pizzicato poetry, stubborn ripples, 'carry' Gibbs-ian Ray Russell-esque Wah-wah waves. However, the tender tenor singing in its dark river bed remains dominant.

Sandy Brown Jazz (Review by Steve Day) - 1st March 2017

Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG - Downtown Music Gallery - March 2017

Link to original review amongst others

PHILIP GIBBS / MARK LANGFORD / ROGER SKERMAN / PAUL ANSTEY / HUGH KIRKBRIDGE - Exchange (Freestone Records 002; UK) Featuring Philip Gibbs on guitars, Mark Langford on bass clarinet & tenor sax, Paul Anstey & Hugh Kirkbride on double basses and Roger Skerman on drums.

Although UK guitarist Philip Gibbs, has appeared on some three dozen discs with his longtime collaborator Paul Dunmall, Mr. Gibbs is still under-recognized on this side of the Atlantic. After years of singing his praises in the DMG newsletters, Mr. Gibbs finally made his way here to play in New York during the week of Hurricane Sandy, sadly cutting back his half-dozen planned gigs to two. Mr. Gibbs and myself, have remained friends and he recently sent us tow fine CDs, a solo guitar and a quintet.

I don’t know any of the other players on this disc, although Paul Anstey does appear on a quartet disc that Mr. Gibbs sent us a couple of years ago, which is on the same label as this one. The first thing I noticed non this disc was that saxist Mark Langford has one of those laid-back, slow burn (Chris Speed-like) tones on tenor. The guitar and tenor are well matched, quickly exchanging lines around one another in several spiraling streams. The two basses provide a robust bottom end, onebowing, one plucking, keeping things slightly off-balanced yet somehow connected. Gibbs has a unique way of tapping on the strings and pushing things further out into more unpredictable territory. Eventually things get more dense, to an almost disorienting extent. At one point, not far from the end of the last piece, I had to hold on to something secure, since I felt like I was about to drown. I held my breath, listened closely and finally found a way inside. Almost too much. -