Melvin Gibbs Magnum
Previously Performed in: 2017, 2012
Gibbs can regale with tales of traveling on European trains with Ronald Shannon Jackson, recording Sonny Sharrock’s entire Seize The Rainbow album in 3 hours, playing percussion for 8 straight hours in Brazil’s Carnival with Olodum, playing bass in the Rollins Band, or working with physicist Stephon Alexander and official NASA artist Justin Brice Guariglia to create music that evokes the sound of climate change.
But Gibbs isn't a braggart. His energies are focused on monster playing. He combines the sheer joy of creating jazz, rock, blues and improvised music with a strong foundation of activism, as the Black Rock Coalition’s co-founder and the Content Creators Coalition’s president.
A Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music graduate, Gibbs first became noticed in Defunkt, an early 1980s downtown New York scene mainstay. In 1998, inspired by Harriet Tubman, Gibbs, J.T. Lewis and Brandon Ross formed a power-jazz trio in her name, dedicating themselves to the liberation of musical expression.
Gibbs and his numerous co-conspirators over the decades have made it their mission to shake foundations and rattle cages. He's one fifth of the Punk-Funk All-Stars and has recorded with hop hop artists Dead Prez, Brazilian artists Caetano Veloso and Marisa Monte, Latin jazz artist Eddie Palmieri and Nigerian artist Femi Kuti, among others.
Melvin Gibbs Magnum is the latest in a series of projects that he’s built around that classic aphorism of the high philosopher of the funk, George Clinton: “free your mind… and your ass will follow.” His co-conspirators and enablers in Magnum are rapper/singer/vocalist Kokayi Issa, drummer/emcee Kassa Overall, keyboardist Paul Wilson and festival alumnus, turntablist DJ Logic.