All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Book Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Good Vibes: A Life in Jazz


Sign in to view read count
Good Vibes: A Life in Jazz
Terry Gibbs, with Cary Ginell
Scarecrow Press

Terry Gibbs recently turned eighty. He's still going strong. Having lived longer than all his bandleaders and most colleagues, he felt very free to relate his experiences with them in this autobiography last year. The results were frank and frequently funny.

Julius Gubenko (his real name) came from a musical family in Brooklyn. By age twelve, he'd won the Major Bowes amateur contest on xylophone. Throughout high school he played Jewish and pop music. Home on furlough during World War II, he dove headlong into the modern jazz scene brewing on 52nd Street. Soon after the war, Gibbs played vibes with Tommy Dorsey (tenure: one song!), Woody Herman's second Herd, Buddy Rich and Benny Goodman, who he dubs "El Foggo". Gibbs joined Chubby Jackson in the first be-bop foray into Sweden. Each of these experiences gets a full chapter. From there Gibbs became a leader, notably of The Dream Band, then as musical director for television hosts Regis Philbin, Chuck Barris and Steve Allen. A virtual Who's Who of jazz appears in his performing history.

Most of Gibbs' book provides absorbing reading, whether he's recounting humorous show business experiences, giving his take on racial discrimination or describing his handling of stars' ego "issues", from Jerry Lewis to Ray Charles to Phil Spector. Gibbs proudly cites his considerable accomplishments without bragging. He admits mistakes, such as not hiring Joe Morello because he thought the drummer looked weird. Along the way there Gibbs provides good lessons in musical choices and human relations. One of the big surprises of Good Vibes was learning that one of Gibbs' pianists in the early '60's was Alice McLeod (later Coltrane), who even appeared on his album Terry Gibbs Plays Jewish Melodies in Jazztime.

This book is primarily about Gibbs' experiences. Don't expect much musical analysis. I have only one quibble. Gibbs tends to throw around Yiddish expressions, which add color and authenticity. Unfortunately, they're not always defined.

Editor Dan Morgenstern and Chubby Jackson each wrote a Foreward and an eighteen page Discography concludes Good Vibes.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Life in the Key of E Book Reviews
My Life in the Key of E
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: March 19, 2018
Read The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums Book Reviews
The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums
by Steve Provizer
Published: March 3, 2018
Read The Universe and John Coltrane: The Physics of Cosmic Vibrations Book Reviews
The Universe and John Coltrane: The Physics of Cosmic...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Good Morning Blues Book Reviews
Good Morning Blues
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: January 11, 2018
Read Never Say No to a Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan, Sinatra, Jagger and More Book Reviews
Never Say No to a Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan,...
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years Of The London Jazz Festival Book Reviews
Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years Of The London Jazz...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "Go Slow: The Life of Julie London" Book Reviews Go Slow: The Life of Julie London
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend" Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "The Art of Conduction" Book Reviews The Art of Conduction
by Riccardo Brazzale
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "All That's Jazz" Book Reviews All That's Jazz
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 6, 2017