Melvin Gibbs

Melvin Gibbs is an American bass guitarist and record producer.[1] who has appeared on close to 200 albums in diverse genres of music. Among others Gibbs is known for working in jazz with drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson and guitarist Sonny Sharrock, and in rock music with Rollins Band and Arto Lindsay.

Melvin Gibbs
Gibbs performing at the Moers Festival in 2010
Background information
GenresJazz fusion, alternative metal, funk rock, ambient, hip hop
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, producer
InstrumentsBass guitar
Years active1980s–present
LabelsLivewired Music, Rage
Associated actsBlack Rock Coalition, Defunkt, Rollins Band, Eye and I


A native of Brooklyn, New York, Gibbs attended Medgar Evers College and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. After graduating from Berklee College of Music,[1] Gibbs first came to public notice as a member of the group Defunkt which was a mainstay of the early 1980s downtown New York scene. Throughout most of the 1980s, he played in drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society with guitarist Vernon Reid and with guitarist Sonny Sharrock and saxophonist John Zorn. With Jackson and guitarist Bill Frisell he was a member of the group Power Tools. Gibbs co-led the band Eye and I with D.K. Dyson who also co-founded the Black Rock Coalition of which he is an original member.

Gibbs took on the role of record producer while with the Rollins Band in the 1990s. He worked in that capacity, producing records for other artists on Rage Records.[1]

He was a member of the avant-metal Rollins Band from 1993 to about 1998 and again in 2006 when the group briefly reformed. As a member of the Rollins Band, he performed at Woodstock '94 in 1994 and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1995. Gibbs has also recorded with hip-hop musician Dead Prez, Brazilian musicians Caetano Veloso and Marisa Monte, Latin jazz musician Eddie Palmieri, Nigerian musician Femi Kuti, and guitarist Marc Ribot. He has produced albums by guitarist Arto Lindsay and turntablist DJ Logic.

Gibbs formed the Punk-Funk All-Stars with James Blood Ulmer, Defunkt leader Joseph Bowie, Vernon Reid and Ronald Shannon Jackson. In 1998, Gibbs, guitarist Brandon Ross, and drummer J.T. Lewis formed the trio Harriet Tubman, which continues to perform concerts and record, as of 2019.[2][3][4][5]

Ancients Speak, the first album by Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Entity, was released on March 17, 2009, by Livewired Music. In 2009, he joined the group SociaLybrium with guitarist Bernie Worrell of Parliament-Funkadelic, DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, and J.T. Lewis. The group's album, For You/For Us/For All was released by Livewired in December 2009.

Gibbs' other projects include Melvin Runs the Hoodoo Down with guitarist Pete Cosey and keyboard player John Medeski; the JFM Trio with guitarist Jeff Parker and percussionist Francisco Mora, the Geechee Seminoles with percussionist David Pleasant[6]; Zig Zag Power Trio with guitarist Vernon Reid and drummer Will Calhoun; God Particle with cosmologist/saxaphonist Stephon Alexander, David Pleasant, and other musicians[7]; and Melvin Gibbs Magnum.[8]


As leader or co-leader

With Defunkt

  • 1980 Defunkt
  • 1994 Live & Reunified
  • 2005 Defunkt/Thermonuclear Sweat[9]

With Rollins Band

  • 1994 Weight
  • 1997 Come In and Burn[9]

With Harriet Tubman

Other bands

  • 1987 Strange Meeting, Power Tools
  • 2010 For You - For Us - For All, Socialybrium

As sideman

With Jean-Paul Bourelly

  • 1994 Saints & Sinners
  • 1997 Fade to Cacophony: Live
  • 2002 Trance Atlantic[9]

With DJ Logic

  • 1999 Project Logic
  • 2001 The Anomaly
  • 2006 Zen of Logic[9]

With Ronald Shannon Jackson

With Arto Lindsay

  • 1995 Aggregates 1-26
  • 1996 Mundo Civilizado
  • 1996 Subtle Body
  • 1998 Noon Chill
  • 1999 Prize
  • 2000 Ecomixes
  • 2002 Invoke
  • 2004 Salt
  • 2014 Encyclopedia of Arto
  • 2017 Cuidado Madame[9]

With Marisa Monte

  • 1991 Mais
  • 1996 Barulhinho Bom (A Great Noise)[9]

With Sonny Sharrock

With Moreno Veloso

  • 2001 Music Typewriter
  • 2014 Coisa Boa[9]

With John Zorn

With others


  1. Layne, Joslyn (2012). "Melvin Gibbs". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  2. "harriet tubman: the band". ReverbNation. 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  3. Freitas, Filipe (November 19, 2018). "Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty". jazztrail. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  4. "Harriet Tubman". bandsintown. November 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  5. "Constellation: Harriet Tubman, Thu, February 14, 2019, 8:30 PM". Constellation. 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  6. "The Geechee Seminoles". Tulane University. 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  7. "Melvin Gibbs & Stephon Alexander Premiere at The Vision Festival 2019". Bass Magazine. May 14, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  8. Cohan, Brad (April 2, 2019). "Melvin Gibbs Isn't Looking Back". Jazz Times. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  9. "Melvin Gibbs | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  10. "Harriet Tubman: The Band". Maurice Montoya Music Agency. 2017. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  11. "Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty". The Wire. November 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
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