Terry Gibbs Dream Band
One More Time (Volume 6)
Contemporary CD CCD-7658-2, 1959/2002 (77:09)
Big band with a bang
Glenn Brooks, 10 August 2002
At the twilight of the big band era, vibraphonist Terry Gibbs put together a big band drawing on the substantial pool of jazz talent in the L.A. area. The band played regularly at two clubs, the Seville and the Sundown. In 2001, in a closet in his house, Gibbs discovered some forgotten reel-to-reel tapes in a box labeled "Big Band Sundown, Seville 1959." Contemporary has put out five previous volumes of the Dream Band. So, here we are now, forty years on, listening to the sixth volume of what Gibbs and his crew put forth back when Hollywood's big hit was "Ben-Hur."
If "big band" makes you think of sweet dance music, and "Los Angeles" suggests laid-back cool jazz, forget it. Gibbs was - and at age 77, still is - a manic performer, and these tunes are filled with frantic energy of the white hipster variety. The personnel shifts slightly between the two venues, but drummer Mel Lewis is a constant, driving the band hard.
The album starts with Gibbs shouting "wah too tray ah!" to kick off "The Fuzz" (now, there's a phrase to take you back), an Al Cohn tune slightly reminiscent of "One Mint Julep." And we're off. Gibbs' shouted exhortations provide a running obbligato, and soloists like Conte Candoli on trumpet, Bill Perkins on tenor, and Pete Jolly or Lou Levy on piano - and Gibbs himself, of course - keep things moving right along. Even the slow tunes have a definite hustle.
As I first listened to this CD, playing in the background while I did office chores, my ears picked when I heard Gibbs say "Irene Kral." Sure enough, Kral appears as a vocalist on three songs near the end: "Sometimes I'm Happy," "Moonlight in Vermont," and "Lover, Come Back to Me." As far as I am concerned, these three tracks alone justify the release of this album. Kral was a superb and little-recorded vocalist, who died much too young at age 46 from breast cancer. She had a masterful way with ballads, impeccable intonation and inflection, and the ability to swing even at a slow tempo, as she demonstrates on "Moonlight." These are early recordings of Kral, who interrupted her career shortly after to raise a family. When she returned to recording in 1974, she was even better, and produced three albums in her last years that are classics of vocal jazz.
The album closes with a stomping and hand-clapping version of Basie's "Jumpin' at the Woodside," where Med Flory and Bill Holman trade twos on tenor, Gibbs takes a machine-gun two-finger piano solo, and Mel Lewis gets to work off excess energy on his drum set.
The recording is hard stereo, up-front and does not capture much of the sense of the club space, and it sounds like the sheer volume of sound overloaded the tape from time to time. Still, it works. Recommended for fans of hard-driving big bands and great jazz singers.
performers Terry Gibbs, vibes, leader; Al Porcino, Ray Triscari, Conte Candoli, John Audino, Lee Katzman, Stu Williamson, trumpets; Bob Enevoldsen, Joe Cadena, Bobby Burgess, Vern Friley, Bill Smiley, trombones; Jack Schwartz, baritone sax; Bill Perkins, Bill Holman, Med Flory, tenor saxes; Joe Maini, Charlie Kennedy, alto saxes; Pete Jolly, Lou Levy, or Benny Aronov, piano; Max Bennett or Buddy Clark, bass; Mel Lewis, drums
production Recorded live at the Seville and Sundown, Hollywood, March and November 1959. Produced by Terry Gibbs.
songs The Fuzz · The Subtle Sermon · Opus One · Smoke Gets in Your Eyes · Slittin' Sam (The Shaychet Man) · Prelude to a Kiss · Flying Home · I Remember You · The Fat Man · Just Plain Meyer · Sometimes I'm Happy · Moonlight in Vermont · Lover, Come Back to Me · Jumpin' at the Woodside
of related interest
Irene Kral: Kral Space, Collectibles CD COL 7160
Only one of Kral's valedictory albums is in print right now, the stunning but dreadfully named "Kral Space." I think it is her best album and recommend you grab it now before it disappears (from amazon.com).