Herb Gibson, vibes; Eddie Harris, saxophone; Ken Rosen, saxophone; Graham Bruce, trumpet; Spender Allen, Flip Nunez, piano; Neil Heidler, Richard Saunders, bass; Richard Gail, drums; Jimmy Witherspoon, vocals
The first two tracks, both written by Herb Gibson, were recorded in the studio. Then came a change of three personnel for the rest of the set, recorded live at Jimmyís Night Club in Oakland, California, replacing saxophone, piano and bass. The drumming of Richard Gail drives the opening tracks, "Serafina" and "Eddie's Way," and there is a pleasant mixing of the horns with the vibes of Herb Gibson. The rest of the set has the open- feel of live playing and the tension of a live audience. "Gee Baby," written and sung by the late and great blues singer, Jimmy Witherspoon, eases back the tempo to a relaxed and warm amble; the band support Witherspoon splendidly. Count Basie's "Goin' To Chicago" and "Nobody's Business", again sung by Witherspoon, and a number-one hit for him in 1949, have a good atmospheric feel, the support is sensitive with some really fine piano from the late Flip Nunez. Staying with the slow pulse allows a shining opening piano solo from Nunez, who appears to enjoy himself with "Goin' Down Slow". "Una Mas" marked the return of a more upbeat tempo, but Milt Jackson's "Heart Strings", took it back down again. Herb by no means dominates on any track; playing with friends, as the title suggests and the CD sounds, is a sharing project. There are good solos from all the players in what is a fulsome and musically entertaining CD.
by Ferdinand Maylin
Jazz Now Interactive July 2004 Vol 14 No. 3 - Table of Contents