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From Me To You: A Tribute To Lionel Hampton
|By Anne Farnsworth|
According to the liner notes in Terry Gibbs' new release, From Me To You - A Tribute To Lionel Hampton, after hearing him for the first time, Hampton wanted to hire Gibbs and make him his protégé. Fifty years later, Gibbs returns the compliment with a solid session that mixes old style swing with the vigor of a post-bop sensibility.
Local luminaries Pete Christlieb, Dave Carpenter, Jeff Hamilton, and Anthony Wilson support Gibbs vibes. Featured guest Joey DeFrancesco adds the cool retro sound of the Hammond organ to the mix. Most of the selections are either Hampton compositions or originals written by Gibbs in honor of his mentor. Gibbs' "Gates Got Rhythm" and "Blues For Hamp" fly along with the infectious energy that was a Hampton trademark.
Terry Gibbs' long and varied career shows no signs of losing steam. Like many vibraphonists, he began as a drummer playing in his violinist father's wedding band.
He switched to vibes around the time that Bird and Dizzy were introducing the New York jazz scene to the sounds of bebop. He joined the Tommy Dorsey band but quit after one night, finding Dorsey's mellow swing arrangements too tame for his energies. After stints with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman, he became a bandleader and spent fifteen years working in television for the Steve Allen Show.
Gibbs plays a passable piano on "Two Fingered Boogie Shuffle" and adds vocals on two tracks, "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" and "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop". The casual ease of his singing reflects his mallet playing, throwing down strings of hot tempo bop lines in a seemingly effortless manner.
Gibbs is a jazz musician who doesn't take himself too seriously. Like many musicians of his era, he seems to understand that while Jazz is an art form, it is also entertainment, both for the audience and the people who come together to make it happen. With From Me To You... he's captured the wit and joy that was a hallmark of Hampton's style. Gibbs is a senior citizen who plays like a rambunctious teenager, framing the sounds of the past in a setting that is vigorous, fresh, and contemporary.