Sax Whiz Clark Gibson, Head of Jazz Studies at NSU, Plays "Bird with Strings: The Lost Arrangements"

Jan 29, 2016

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we chat with the saxophonist, composer, and music educator Clark Gibson, who took the helm as Director of Jazz Studies at NSU in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, last fall. Gibson relocated to our community from Illinois, and his new CD, just out, is a terrific recording that grew out of the work he did while completing his doctorate at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. That disc is "Bird with Strings: The Lost Arrangements," and it's on the Chicago-based Blujazz label. It's an album that presents several rarely-heard arrangements for alto sax and small string orchestra, by the likes of Gerry Mulligan and George Russell, which were originally created for -- but not, in the end, used by -- the legendary Charlie "Bird" Parker, who recorded a couple of very popular "with strings" LPs for the Verve label in the late Forties and early Fifties. As was noted of Gibson's new recording at the All About Jazz website, in an appreciative "4.5 stars out of 5" review: "The 'Bird' in this instance is composer/educator Clark Gibson, and it is clear from the outset that he is an avid admirer of Parker and his enterprises with strings.... To his credit, Gibson does not try to mirror Parker's singular approach but instead summons forth the indomitable Parker spirit, enabling him to play marvelously on every number with no more than an occasional nod to the special brilliance that set Bird apart from and above his contemporaries (not to mention every alto saxophonist who has drawn breath since).... [This] is a splendid saxophone-with-strings album that embraces the most auspicious elements of Parker's groundbreaking enterprise while adding some tantalizing variations of its own. In other words, well worth hearing and appreciating."