When it comes to what young jazz musicians should and shouldn't do, there are two equally extreme schools of thought. One is the Wynton Marsalis/Stanley Crouch school, which insists that all post-1965 developments in jazz have no value and that all fusion, jazz-funk, and avant-garde jazz is worthless. At the opposite extreme are those who believe that every young improviser who comes along must be an innovator, which is foolishly unrealistic. The truth is somewhere in the middle; jazz has room for innovators as well as traditionalists. Very much a hard bop/post-bop traditionalist, David Gibson shows some promise on his debut album, Maya. This German release is highly derivative, which isn't to say that it isn't enjoyable. A straight-ahead trombonist along the lines of J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, and Kai Winding, Gibson isn't groundbreaking, but shows himself to be a swinging and likable player on original pieces like "Indomitable," "Snide Remarks," and "Big John" (none of which would have been out of place on a Blue Note session in the early '60s). Gibson also turns his attention to "What's New" and "Speak Low," two great standards that have been beaten to death over the years. And because the trombonist doesn't bring anything new or different to them, he would do well to interpret material that hasn't been overdone -- how about finding the straight-ahead jazz potential in Stevie Wonder, Sting, or Billy Joel (just to give a few examples)? But thankfully, Gibson doesn't inundate listeners with warhorses on Maya, which was recorded at two sessions in New York -- one in June 2001, the other on September 9, 2001. All things considered, Maya is a generally decent, if conventional debut.
by Alex Henderson