Vibraphonist Terry Gibbs invited select guest audience members into a studio for this recording, giving it the club date feel and interaction that usually pumps up the excitement quotient. Gibbs (age 80) also has added to his handpicked band the very exciting organist Joey DeFrancesco, adding more of the chitlin' circuit feel to the proceedings. With guitarist Dan Faehnle and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, this elevates the session further to a legitimate classic soul-jazz groove date. While vibes have been used before in this setting, and Gibbs is not the first, it is not typical in contemporary times. Many originals written by Gibbs, a few standards done differently, and the noticeable symmetry between the participants take these recordings to an even different plateau. The band works well together, and except for the sheer amplified volume level on DeFrancesco's organ, no one player dominates. There's some super hot hard bop here, starting with the soul-jazz flavored opener "Smoke 'Em Up" in a similar groove to "Got My Mojo Working," the 250 m.p.h. "Hot Rod" closer with its swirling, circular melody, and "Hey Jim," similar to Charlie Parker's fervent "Cool Blues" that organist Jimmy Smith did so well. "St. Louis Blues" is introduced by drummer Gerry Gibbs (Terry's son) in a bompity bomp Gene Krupa style, then swings out. The Brazilian classic of Antonio Carlos Jobim "Wave" is stripped of its bossa nova melody and replaced with a jazz swing, while conversely the bossa rhythm replaces the swing of "Sugar." The immortal Erroll Garner ballad "Misty" has its familiar time doubled, and trimmed in Latin dress via the conga playing of Ray Armando with all of the front line instrumentalists democratically playing a portion of the melody. Blues is never far from the equation, in a feature for DeFrancesco on the neat and clean take of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," the relaxed and slow pace of "And That's Why They Call It the Blues," but the out of place, anxious solo from Gibbs during the vibe led version of "This Masquerade" has been done far too often (and boringly at that) to make this listless cover stand out. Feelin' Good is generally an apt title on this collection of tunes from a true all-star group of players, particularly the extraordinary Joey DeFrancesco, the excellent Eric Alexander, and the underrated and still improving Dan Faehnle.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos