Terry Gibbs, who has been Findin' the Groove for more than sixty years and continues to home in on it at the post-retirement age of 81 (82 on October 13), shares the front line with master flutist Hubert Laws on his latest album, which, in typical Gibbs fashion, swings relentlessly in a bop-centered groove from first note to last.
The vibes/flute tandem proves remarkably successful, especially when supported by a savvy rhythm section anchored by Terry's son, Gerry, at the drum kit and including guitarist Dan Faehnle, pianist Tom Ranier and bassist Hamilton Price from Gerry's Thrasher Big Band. Faehnle and Ranier are resourceful improvisers who keep Terry and Hubert on their toes and wailing, while Gerry takes a star turn on Terry's "Dance with the Brushes, patterned after Neal Hefti's "Cute. Terry wrote half a dozen other tunes to complement the standards "But Not for Me and "Teach Me Tonight, Bernie Miller's "Bernie's Tune, Benny Golson's "Killer Joe, Jimmy Giuffre's "Four Brothers and Denzil Best's "Wee. Terry arranged everything, and there's not a turkey in the barnyard.
Joan Carroll, definitely someone to keep an eye on, sings marvelously on the Gershwins' "But Not for Me and Terry's bossa "The House That Might Have Been (lyric by Arthur Hamilton), even though "But Not for Me, written as a lament to love that can never be, is cast as an up-tempo romp whose inherent sadness has been supplanted by pure elation. Even so, Carroll manages to make the change of pace seem convincing.
Laws, who has strayed in recent years from the straight-ahead path, sounds as though he'd never been away, matching Terry stride for stride in a series of electrifying ad-libs that reaches its zenith on the mercurial "Wee. To be honest, these old pros are untroubled at any tempo, as one recognizes throughout this relaxed yet cohesive studio date. Above all, they are having fun together, a vibe (pardon the pun) that the listener can instantly sense and appreciate.
Terry Gibbs and his mates have clearly found a groove, one that should please almost anyone who enjoys swinging, straight-from-the-hip jazz. Excellent sound and generous playing time help make the session even more enticing. Warmly recommended.
Terry Gibbs: vibraphone, leader; Hubert Laws: flute; Dan Faehnle: guitar; Tom Ranier: piano;
Hamilton Price: bass; Gerry Gibbs: drums; Joan Carroll: vocals (4,9).