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The Mort Report

On White Guys Playing The Blues, and Benny Goodman Practicing Nude

By Published: May 29, 2012
Speaking of vibe players, Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
and I were playing some concerts around the Los Angeles area a few years ago. Terry was 80 years old, but had the drive and vibrancy of a cat in his 20s. Terry used to be a boxer, and still has the moves. (If you ever have the chance, ask him about the encounter he had with Stan Hasselgard, the great Swedish bop clarinetist.) Any way, one doesn't talk to Terry—one listens. His book Good Vibes is a must read. Let's face it: The cat's a living legend. (Really, just ask him!) It was a cool thing for me, hanging with the cat, going to his home and seeing all of the Downbeat magazine poll-winning plaques on the wall with all the other memorabilia. Terry was there from the beginning, not Adam and Eve. He's played with all the major cats—and all of the major cats played with him. (Sounds like a be-bop playground.) Don't forget Terry's Dream Band; the records are more popular now than when they were first released. Terry was the cat that introduced Alice McLeod (who was playing piano with him at the time in Birdland) to John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
. If you want to know the rest of the story, just ask Ravi Coltrane—who, by the way, is a good friend of Terry's son Gerry, a real ass-kickin' drummer who I've also had the pleasure of working with. I produced a great record that Gerry did with his Thrasher Sextet, Faces Unknown. I'll be re-releasing it later this year. You can hear samples of same on my Web site.

Enough of the son; back to the father, Terry: He told me about Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
practicing in the nude. (For those of you from Bakersfield, that means naked.) Terry was working with Benny one day—they were on the road, though this has nothing to do with Kerouac—and he went to Benny's hotel room to draw some coin before pay day. Benny comes to the door buck naked, with his ax in his hands, and writes out a check—then goes back practicing. Cool! After hearing all this, you know what I started doing. Yep. A few weeks into it, I came down with this sore throat from hell, and the worst cold that I'd ever had. Once again: Oy. Terry Gibbs, a great cat and a living legend. We don't speak anymore, but that's another story. Must be something about vibe players. Hmmm.

This column is shared with our good friends at Something Else Reviews—where you can also find daily jazz, progressive rock and classic rock reviews.


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