4/28: Vibist Terry Gibbs comes out of retirement with new album "92 Years Young: Jammin’ at the Gibbs House"
It is, quite honestly, pretty impressive to even make it past 90, let alone have a viable recording career at that most vaunted of decades. But that is Terry Gibbs. And not only has Gibbs gotten to this point and recorded a session past the age of 90, he's done it on the most physical of jazz instruments: the vibes! Without a doubt, the vibes is one of the most demanding instruments to play; standing up, arms striking mallets hard, your whole body engaged in the practice as it moves up and down the row of keys.
For an incredible eight decades now, feisty vibraphonist and jazz icon Terry Gibbs has demonstrated the sheer joy of performing. "Life is a gas!" he seems to be saying with his music. "Let's do this!" That spirit is in abundance on his latest album, 92 Years Young: Jammin' at the Gibbs House, a collection of songs recorded live in Gibbs' living room studio. Gibbs—accompanied by his son Gerry on drums, Mike Gurrola on bass, and John Campbell on piano—sparkles on vibes. His tone is impeccable and his energy belies his senior status.
Most of the tracks on Jammin' were done in a single take. Arrangements were discussed briefly. There was no rehearsal. This approach to recording is old school, rare today, the kind of session sophisticated talents like Terry and not all that many others would dare tackle. In performance, he behaves like an exuberant fan of his own band, cheering his accompanists on, punctuating arrangements and solos with non-verbal interjections. His spirit was cultivated over the years, having played in significant jazz eras, with the formative giants of the genre, including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in bebop and Benny Goodman in swing. And he's got the stories to back him up.
For many years, Terry's quartet included a woman on piano (and vibes), something rare in those more traditional days. Throughout his career, he also toured the U.S. and abroad with a racially mixed band, surmounting another important social barrier.
While he doesn't boast of breaking additional social barriers with 92 Years Young: Jammin' at the Gibbs House, he can boast of having a great band. Terry's son Gerry, a veteran drummer and leader with several #1 CDs of his own, has recorded with his 'Pops' a number of times, as has pianist John Campbell. The seamlessness and continuity are carried by the entire band, who support the leader with requisite panache.
Perhaps Jammin' marks Gibbs' final recording, perhaps not. At this point, those who know and love him don't take anything for granted. For now, his decision to make this recording, his most recent in a very long line of excellent recordings, is something to celebrate, not to mention an extraordinary pleasure to hear.
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