Vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, 97 and finally retired from playing after eight decades, embodies all the fun of the era that created him. Whether as a member of Woody Herman’s historic Second Herd of the late ’40s or leader of the all-star Dream Band, a Hollywood happening from 1959-1962, Gibbs was a blast of high energy and cool showmanship.
His son, Gerry Gibbs, is an imaginative drummer/ percussionist whose albums include an acoustic salute to Weather Report and an orchestral portrait of Miles Davis’ fusion phase. Songs from My Father shines a light on his dad’s overlooked gifts as a composer of some of the catchiest tunes in jazz. This double CD is a candy box of toe-tapping grooves, hummable heads, and enough surprises to keep the listener constantly engaged.
Four trios, assembled by and featuring Gerry, give this music a regal showcase. In his last recordings, Chick Corea is heard with Ron Carter; their version of “Bopstacle Course,” written in 1974, sounds like some forgotten gem from the age of Bud Powell. The agile pianist Geoff Keezer meets his match in bassist Christian McBride; on “Nutty Notes” they become Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales on a race to the finish line. Larry Goldings, playing Hammond B-3, joins pianist Patrice Rushen on the album’s funkiest tracks; they also intertwine elegantly on “Pretty Blue Eyes,” a lilting waltz. “T&S,” a chaser from 1949, finds Kenny Barron and Buster Williams reading each other’s minds with the clairvoyance of two soulmates.
Gerry adapts gracefully to every style—West Coast cool, manic bop, samba—and always swings. On “Hey Chick,” played by all four units, Terry appears in a solo flown in from 1961; it’s a reminder of where the younger Gibbs got his flair.