Terry Gibbs Legacy Band
The Terry Gibbs Songbook
Whaling City Sound
The vibraphonist and composer Terry Gibbs thought he was done with music at age 92 but the muse struck, and he gathered several lyric writers (Steve Allen, Michael Dees, Jerry Gladstone, Arthur Hamilton, and Bobby Troup. and a dream band to play 15 of his favorite compositions on The Terry Gibbs Songbook at age 98. Even though he just plays a two-finger piano and has a vocal on “Now’s the Time to Groove,” the liners claim that he is the only jazz musician to have recorded in eight decades. Arguably, Marshall Allen, leader of the Sun Ra Arkestra at age 99 can make the same claim except there may have been a twenty-year gap in recordings. In any case, lest we digress, the music of the two as you likely know is vastly different. Gibbs is as mainstream as it gets and his hand-picked musicians reflect such – Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen on tenor saxophone, Tom Rainier on piano and tenor saxophone, Danny Bacher (JazzTimes Best Male Vocalist winner) on vocals, Mike Gurrola on bass, and his son Gerry Gibbs on drums.
The project began as just one song and blossomed into an album and there’s a rather circuitous explanation of how it evolved in the liner notes. In any case, this will be the last statement from Terry Gibbs. He picked the music, the vocalist, and the band and rehearsed them to do it his way, ultimately producing the album. These are the kind of songs Sinatra would have loved to sing except here they are rendered in a small combo rather than with a big band or orchestra. The two singing tenorists add to Bacher’s blissful vibe as he sings the opening “Let’s Go To Rio.” The bouncy “Those Eyes, Those Lips, That Nose, That Face, That Girl” is the epitome of Bobby Troup’s gift as a lyricist. (Yes, he and Gibbs also wrote the enduring “Route 66.”) As we listen to Hamilton and Allen glide through their solos, we’re transported all the way back to Lester “the Prez” Young’s early tenor style from the ‘40s. Behind it all of course is Gibbs’ amazing talent for infectious melodic hooks, making these tunes essentially timeless.
Gibbs did a nice job sequencing the album too, inserting ballads such as the melancholy “I Was Loved,” “The House That Might Have Been,” the romantic “If I Were You,” and tearful “Lonely Days” and “Say Goodbye” amidst the swinging tracks, all deftly played by pianist Rainier and the band. These tunes never get bogged down with self-pity and instead a mature outlook shows through, especially on “I Knew Then.” Bluesy strains run through much of the material as well from the slow, burning “Nina” to the upbeat “I Can Hardly Wait for Saturday Night.” “Play and Sing,” “Stay with Me Tonight,” and “Sweet Young Song of Love,” bring effusive joy.
This solid, expressive songcraft has long marked Terry Gibbs’ storied career. It’s only fitting that he delivers such a classy statement in his final bow.
- Jim Hynes
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