Happy 97th Birthday, Terry
On Wednesday, October 13th, vibraphonist, big and small bandleader, composer, author, and TV music director Terry Gibbs celebrates his 97th birthday. For six decades, I have been a big Terry Gibbs fan. There is an energy in his music which I find irresistible.
Terry is in relatively good health and possesses an astonishing memory; he can recall details, personnel, and stories of just about every recording session and album he has done, going back to 1955 or before. Even back then, he found novel settings for his vibes playing, including alongside two other stellar vibes players on one album and a 5-horn big band sax section on another. In the 1950s, few women instrumentalists were afforded their proper respect; Terry toured and recorded for years with Terry Pollard as pianist (she is also an excellent vibist; check them out on YouTube) and Alice Coltrane, nee McLeod, who also played piano, and some vibes, with him.
I got to meet Terry on March 9, 2006, at the recording session for his CD “Findin’ the Groove,” (JazzedMediaJM1021) at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood. I was a guest of his son Gerry, whom I had met previously in San Antonio through my late brother, Fred Weiss. Gerry has done several CDs for my Whaling City Sound label and was the drummer for the session.
Just a few years ago, Terry came out of retirement and recorded “92 Years Young: Jammin’ at the Gibbs House,” and that CD, like several of Terry’s pre-retirement recordings, went to #1 on the JazzWeek radio chart.
Today his son Gerry sits at top of the Jazzweek chart with his latest, “Songs From My Father,” a two CD collection of songs written by Terry, and which Gerry has played his whole life. Joining Gerry in his tribute to his “Pops” are four “Thrasher Dream Trios”: Kenny Barron and Buster Williams, Patrice Rushen and Larry Goldings (organ), Geoff Keezer and Christian McBride and Chick Corea (his last recording) and Ron Carter.
Terry is very pleased with how these spectacular talents interpretated and explored his tunes in their own personal way. Sometimes it takes a while for some obvious talent and artworks to be suitably displayed and appreciated.
On your birthday, Terry, on behalf of your legion of fans, I want to wish you a happy 97th and thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Keep it up.
President, Whaling City Sound and fan of Terry and Gerry Gibbs
JazzWeek Top 100 for 2017
Two Gibbs releases in the top ten for the year!
#19, Eric Wyatt Look to the Sky (Peaked at #17, 6 weeks) Brooklyn-born and bred Eric owns a solid berth along the saxophone continuum originally laid out by guys like Parker, Coltrane and Rollins. Throughout his career, his playing has been edgy and inventive, heartfelt and poignant. In fact, his father was good friends with Rollins and after Wyatt’s dad passed away, Sonny Rollins became involved in Eric’s music. “After my dad passed in 1989, Sonny became very present in my music and offered his help. I was given the opportunity to record my first CD, Godson, on the Japanese label King Records. Sonny suggested the title Godson because it explained his and my dad’s Hope. The Godson CD featured Al Foster, Rufus Reid and Mark Soskin, all members of Sonny’s bands. Look to the Sky, Wyatt’s debut for Whaling City Sound and his sixth recording overall, is magnificently realized, both instrumentally and emotionally. There are musical nods to his father (“Jolley Charlie”) and mother (“Psalm for Phennie”), to Coltrane (“My Favorite Things”) and a few other intimate touch-points, some original, a few written by his accompanist, Benito Gonzalez. Indeed, Wyatt is joined here by excellent progressive musicians, including the resounding pianist Gonzalez, drummers Shinnosuke Takahashi and Kyle Pool, Eric Wheeler on bass and Keyon Harrold on trumpet. Together, their music is filled with hope and dedication, reciprocity and passion. With every recording, Wyatt flourishes, in terms of artistry and intensity, power and finesse. Look to the Sky is the man’s—and his band’s— finest and fullest record yet.
Dave Zinno Unisphere River of January (Chartbound) The songs are lavish jazz adventures, rich with texture, ripe with melodicism, and simply joyful audio journeys. The band is spectacular: Unisphere includes the talents of sax man Mike Tucker (Arturo Sandoval), drummer Rafael Barata (Milton Nascimento, Marc Johnson), Leo Genovese (Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spaulding), and Crescent City trumpeter Benny Bloom. Zinno leads them the way a hopeless romantic treats a first love: gently, understanding and worshipful. He glorifies his accompanists and allows them to go on at length, indulging their considerable talents and making River of January a wall of glorious of sound. This isn’t to say that it’s stodgy. Zinno infuses the work with progress. The band takes the vibe of traditional jazz and reverses the paradigm, so the songs, while familiar, certainly don’t remain the same. There are many highlights here, and while it wouldn’t be a waste of space to speak about them individually, it would be easier to say that these tunes all include rushes of adrenaline, sweetness of melody and serious elements of style. River of January is a work of forward thinking tradition and one that has much substance within it to discover.
By: Dan Bilawski
Few things are a given, yet we can always count on a flood of new music making its way into the world over the course of a year. In 2017 some of the best jazz found its path by looking forward, doubling back, and/or branching out. In short, this music and the dedicated artists who make it continued to uphold a legacy paradoxically built on tradition, change, absorption, and refraction. I had the pleasure of listening to more than four hundred albums over the past year, and I covered approximately one hundred of them for All About Jazz. These twenty-five stood tallest in that crowd (Note: selections on this list are NOT ranked):
92 Years Young: Jammin’ At The Gibbs House
(Whaling City Sound)
Here is what Dan Bilawski thought about 92 years young when it released back in June:
For a brief moment, put aside the fact that legendary vibraphonist Terry Gibbs is now ninety-two years old. Just listen to the YouTube video at the bottom of this piece—lyrical, swinging, and vibrant as any jazz out there—and take it in. It’s something beautiful, right? Nothing radical or groundbreaking at all, but most certainly jazz of the highest order. Now, go back to Gibbs’ age. At ninety-two, he’s at a point where most of his peers are either gone from this earth or lacking the vitality that served them well in their younger years. Few make it to that stage and far fewer have much to celebrate if they do. But Gibbs is that one-in-a-million man, loving life, smiling away, and still making his mark as one of the greatest vibraphonists of all time.
Gibbs essentially went into retirement around the time that he gained nonagenarian status, but when a one-off jam session at his house yielded a YouTube video that went viral overnight, the idea of making another album surfaced. Whaling City Sound’s Neal Weiss approached him about it and, despite the fact that Gibbs had declined Weiss’ offers to record in the recent past, he agreed. There was just one condition: the vibes legend didn’t want to go into a studio, so he offered up the idea of recording a jam session in his own home. Weiss was game for that, the plans were put together, the music was recorded and mastered, and here we have it—or about half of it, anyway. Over the course of four days in 2016, Gibbs and his band for the occasion—John Campbell on piano, Mike Gurrola on bass, and son-labelmate Gerry Gibbs on drums—recorded thirty-one songs. Gibbs picked the performances he liked best, and that’s what made it onto the album.
When taken with the aforementioned information, what makes this recording all the more remarkable is the fact that there were no written arrangements and most everything was done in a single take. In the end, musical self-assuredness coupled with spontaneity helped to create pure perfection. That’s apparent in Campbell’s smart juxtaposition of a familiar bebop strain against Gibbs’ “Back Home In Indiana” melody line, the vibraphonist’s classy and glowing cadenza at the tail end of “What’s New?,” some playfully traded fours between both Gibbs men in various spots, and the interlaced piano and vibraphone streams on “Yardbird Suite.” And that’s merely a handful of bright moments on an album overflowing with them. Time may remain an unbeatable adversary for all mankind, but it’s beautifully clear that Terry Gibbs has yet to acknowledge and accept that inevitable truth. Long may his mallets move.
To see Dan Bilawski’s other top picks for 2017 click here
To see the original review of 92 years Young, click here