Terry Gibbs Quartet: Plays Terry Gibbs 

Single CD combines two 1963 modern mainstream sessions the vibist recorded with the future Mrs Coltrane on piano


This single CD features two LPs from 1963 by Gibbs and his new quartet. The band previously had Terry Pollard on piano and as she left she recommended Alice McLeod, a young bopper from Detroit. Gibbs set up a jam session, listened to McLeod and was impressed enough to offer her the job in his band straight away.

The music featured on these two sessions is all by Gibbs, a prolific composer of bop material although this perhaps wasn’t well known at the time. However, the music on The Family Album – the first 12 selections here – was credited to Sonia Flam, Gibbs’ sister, for contractual reasons. All the music flows along effortlessly with Gibbs’ free-flowing invention on every piece aided throughout by strong piano solos and the firm bass and drum work of Ernie Farrow and Steve Little. Later in that era Little would go on to play in the Duke Ellington orchestra.

There are no standards here, but the Gibbs style is so typically bop that his music sounds similar to any number of bebop classics. Alice McLeod, at that time playing in a Bud Powell style, lacked the speed and virtuosity of the original but fitted in very well with the Gibbs music.

The second 10 tracks (constituting the album El Nutto) are much in the same style and league with Herman Wright and John Dentz now taking over on bass and drums. The compositions are all meant to convey different names and descriptions that Gibbs used to describe his wife, Carol. Even El Nutto, it would seem. Like the first 12 tracks the music is a mixture of uptempo bop, blues, bossa and the occasional ballad – all straight ahead, swinging and melodic sounding even if lacking anything new or particularly original.

Alice stayed a year with the band until Terry introduced her to John Coltrane one night. Terry said: “I saw a love affair happen.” Then she left.

The two sessions on one disc give a thorough indication of how well Terry Gibbs was playing at the time and how well his new pianist fitted in. Today, Terry Gibbs is one of great jazz survivors, aged 97 as of this writing. 

[The Family Album] (1) Burton Up Your Lip; Up At Logue’s Place; One For My Uncle; Ballad For Barbara; Sherry Bossa Nova; El Cheapo; Henny Time; Manny Moons Ago; Better To Be Richie Than Poor; Sunny Girl; Sol Right With Me; Half Stuie; [El Nutto] (2) Little “S;” El Nutto; The Nightie Night Waltz; The Young Ones; El Flippo; Hey Pretty; Sleepy Head Blues; Lonely Days; Little “C;” Just For Laughs (74.57)
(1) Gibbs (vib); Alice McLeod (p); Ernie Farrow (b); Steve Little (d). NYC, 13 February 1963. (2) Gibbs (vib); McLeod (p); Herman Wright (b); John Dints (d). NYC, 15 April 1963.
Fresh Sound FSR CD-1102