The title Swing Is Here would have been more appropriate for the 1930s instead of 1960 when this album was originally issued, and the big-band era had long since waned. Yet vibraphonist Terry Gibbs kept the home fires burning out in California with this exceptional orchestra of cool jazz giants playing a stack of standards and modern compositions by Bill Holman or Gibbs, and one look back with an Artie Shaw number. What is most interesting about these arrangements is that they are always different in emphasizing the fleet, dampened sound of Gibbs in contrast, apart from, or in tandem with the woodwinds and brass instruments. They also never get in each other's way, making for some delightful tonic music-making that reflects both the dance tradition and more modernized precepts of big-band music. Reflecting the style of the Count Basie band with a big helping of Woody Herman or Stan Kenton, the band leaps into "The Song Is You" as Gibbs plays the first melody line, then the band takes over, while the opposite ploy is utilized during "Dancing in the Dark." Holman's originals "Bright Eyes" and "Evil Eyes" are different from the rest and each other, the former a lively bop chart with jumping counterpoint saxes and brass, the latter led out by pianist Lou Levy and the horns, with Gibbs holding up the rear guard of the band. A 12-bar blues, "The Fat Man" has, over time, become a favorite Gibbs composition covered repeatedly by his bands, and here is the original recording. "It Might as Well Be Swing" is a cleverly modified title from the standard "It Might as Well Be Spring" but is closer to Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" in its elegant, sophisticated imagery. Claude Debussy's "My Reverie," on the other hand, dismisses its composers early morning visage for a classic jazz sound that is truly the epitome signature style Gibbs portrays. The Artie Shaw tribute to Boston "Back Bay Shuffle" has drummer Mel Lewis codifying and extending Gene Krupa's bompity bomp rhythmic dance remarks in a danceable yet enlivened manner. There are some extraordinary musicians in the band, such as trumpeter and ostensible leader Al Porcino, "second" trumpeters Conte Candoli and Stu Williamson, trombonist Frank Rosolino (listed third on the depth chart), lead alto saxophonist Joe Maini, and Bill Perkins, and Med Flory on tenor saxes. Gibbs plays a lot on this album, a testament to his tenacity as a unique voice on his instrument, and a good example of how this well-defined music refused to die even though it fell out of favor due to sheer economics. Clocking in at under 35 minutes with no alternate takes or extra tracks, and out of print for decades prior to this CD reissue, it's a short, sweet item recommended at a bargain price.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos