Gibbs’ release a reverie
One More Time
Terry Gibbs Dream Band – Vol. 6
This is a sixth and most unexpected recording by vibraphonist Terry Gibbs’ Dream Band, and it is indeed a royal reverie. The disc is made possible by Gibbs’ discovery of a box of forgotten tapes containing material the leader’s band had recorded during engagements at two long-shuttered Hollywood clubs – the Seville and the Sundowner – in 1958.
Gibbs’ big band was essentially a rehearsal ensemble made up of many of Hollywood’s elite studio musicians and played mainly on Monday nights, when the clubs would otherwise have been dark.
And what a band it was! With Gibbs supplying the juice that kept the group energized, and drummer Mel Lewis driving the band to the max, the Gibbsmen cheered solos, using charts mainly as sketchbooks for wildly inventive improvisations. However, the band was also as tight as a drum head when unison blowing was the way to go.
Gibbs’ sidemen? Only the best. In addition to Lewis, Gibbs could look to aces like Conte Candoli and Al Porcino in the trumpet section, trombonist Bob Enevoldsen, reedmen Bill Perkins and Joe Maini and pianists Pete Jolly and Lou Levy. And on this issue, guest vocalist perky Irene Krall was contributing uptempo takes of “Sometimes I’m Happy” and “Lover, Come Back To Me” and a luxurious ballad, “Moonlight In Vermont.”
You know you’re in for a jazz feast when the band delivers a one-two punch to open the session with “Fuzz,” a feature for Candoli, followed by “Subtle Sermon” that has a Basie-like feeling and a “Jada”-like melody..
“Opus One” showcases alto saxists Maini and Charlie Kennedy in a series of exchanges that eventually ends up as one-bar chases, while Candoli’s stunning solo works make “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” extra special. and “Prelude To a Kiss” is a tour-de-force for the still-active Gibbs.
The balance of the program is a mix of ballads and burners. “I Remember You,” another opportunity for Candoli, falls into the former category, and “The Fat Man,” a Gibbs goer, fits the latter mold.
But the band is at its best when it turns up the heat on two jazz evergreens: “Flying Home,” which features everyone except the band manager, but especially trumpeters Lee Katzman, Stu Williamson and Candoli, as well as Gibbs, who takes two extended choruses; and “Jumping at the Woodside,” that opens with three Gibbs’ choruses before evolving into a battle of the saxes between two warrior tenormen Med Flory and Holman.
All in all, a must-have recording for anyone who enjoys immersing himself in big-band swing.
Cam Miller is a freelance jazz critic in Lake Wildwood. You may write to him care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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