Terry Gibbs

Findin' the Groove

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Recording prolifically in the first years of the 21st century, the octogenarian Terry Gibbs still delivers the fastest vibes in the West on this aptly named 2006 release Findin' the Groove. No tributes or concepts based on the past this time -- just straight-ahead, likeable, hard swinging workouts from a sextet that features the great flutist Hubert Laws on its front line. Gibbs and Laws had only played together once before -- when Laws sat in on piccolo unexpectedly on a Gibbs gig at Steamers in Fullerton, CA not long before this session. Yet they make a very graceful pair, their sound dancing with feather-light agility over the rhythm section, giving this ad hoc yet tight little band a special sound all its own. Laws isn't as visible on the recording scene these days as he once was -- and from hearing his sterling, swinging style and huge, golden tone on this date, you can't figure out why this should be so. Another big factor in this session's lightly shaded color scheme is Terry's drummer, son Gerry Gibbs, who propels the selections with the relentless yet never overbearing energy of his father. Terry wrote about half of the material, all of it appealing, including some journeys into samba "Samba Wazoo" and wistful bossa nova ("The House That Might Have Been, " with vocals by Joan Carroll). Amidst all of the up-tempo swingers, "Teach Me Tonight" is a relaxed breather in context, though these thoroughbreds seem reined in, just dying to gallop again. Alas, Jimmy Giuffre's irresistible "Four Brothers" doesn't really hit its stride until the solos kick in; the famous theme sounds uncharacteristically labored (yes, it's difficult). Mostly, though, a splendid session.

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