About Jon Bibbs Music
What is the measure of a man?
How does one define it in the case of Richmond, Virginia multi-talented Jon Bibbs?
Maybe one measures the man by the discipline of a boy who practiced his Gladwell hours from Virginia Commonwealth University and Sixth Baptist Church right to the major stages of Richmond, sharing the spotlight with everyone from the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra to gospel superstars like The Winans before he’d even entered middle school? Maybe it’s by the humility of one who’d played with marquee talent, but who still understood there was more to be learned by playing in his school choirs and bands, openly soaking in the lessons in tuba, trumpet, trombone, upright bass, French Horn, and, of course, piano from peers and elders alike right to the Historically Black institution, Hampton University, on a trombone scholarship. There the Hamptonian Man was further refined into the focused and dignified man of Southern gentility, measured strength, and quiet masculinity that displayed itself not through bravado and untilled hope, but through its talent, intellect, and works.
What is the measure of an artist? And, how does one measure the art of Jon Bibbs? Is it through influences as varied as saxophonist Lester Young, opera singer Maria Callas, and funky multi-instrumentalist native son Michael “D’Angelo” Archer for music touched by everything from gospel quartet to the classical? Is it through the telling generosity of a man whose first album, True Story in 2001, was not even for himself, but for the engineering studies of a producer friend? Maybe one assesses an artist through the sheer volume of quality output with five well-received projects released over the last fourteen years, including Red in 2003, the critically acclaimed breakthrough album that is the internationally beloved Unbreakable in 2005, the adventurous and deeply personal heartbreak of the iTunes and Amazon charting Ode to Old Flames in 2012 (peak: #11 & #14 R&B, respectively), the traditionalism of American Songbook standards through the minimalist Jazz Variations Live from New York in 2013. Maybe its how a self-described torchbearer honors the past of the Black American Music tradition as the stylistic Bibbs did with sell-out, one-man Iconic Men of Soul tribute shows to Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye?
Perhaps its by the creatives who’ve shared studios or stages with Bibbs that honor his name with their tongues, stars like Ledisi, Roy Ayers, Chuck Brown, Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Jennifer Hudson, Melanie Fiona, Maimouna Youssef, Miguel, Musiq Soulchild and Avant, among others. Awards? How about SoulTracks Male Vocalist of the Year nominee in 2012? Stages? Bibbs has done everything from S.O.B.s in NYC to the Howard Theater in DC. Does one measure an artist by his creative and technical abilities as a quadruple threat: writer, producer, composer, and multi-instrumental musician who has innovative songs bridging country and soul like his letter to an old love, Nobody Loves You More or a long proven ability to marry jazz and soul as with his forthcoming collaboration with Dwele on Love In Waiting? Maybe its through his willingness to be vulnerable in an effort to take people on a journey through the continuum of Black American music as he did on his go-for-broke performance of Nina Simone’s, I Put A Spell On You, from Ode to Old Flames. By any of those measures, Bibbs is as accomplished an artist, as he is enviable a talent.