Terry Gibbs began his career at the age of 12 after winning the Major Bowes Amateur Hour Contest and subsequently began touring professionally. He spent many years as a drummer and percussionist playing gigs until his affinity for bebop motivated him to turn down a scholarship to Juilliard as a timpanist and return to the vibes. Six decades of inspirational vibe playing and technique, Gibbs is recognized as one of the best ever to grace the genre of bop.
After World War II, Gibbs toured with Chubby Jackson, Buddy Rich and Woody Herman. He co-led a sextet with Louie Bellson and Charlie Shavers; and in 1950, he formed his own band for Mel Torme's TV show. In 1951, he joined the Benny Goodman Sextet. Subsequently, he toured with his own band where he won acclaim as "# 1 Vibraphonist in the world," in both the down beat and Metronome polls from 1950 to 1955. Gibbs also played a role in breaking down the sex barrier in music, using pianists Terry Pollard, who he often featured in vibe duos, and Alice Mcleod, who later married John Coltrane.
Settling in Los Angeles in 1957, he formed his big band known as "The Dream Band." Comprised of Mel Lewis, Joe Maini, Frank Rosolino, Conte Candoli and Richard Kamuca, they were named "Best Band in the World" in the Down Beat '62 Critic's Poll.
Gibbs returned to New York in the early sixties only to move back to LA to take a position as Music Director for the Regis Philbin Show. This gave him the opportunity to compose the music and conduct a sextet. He later served as Music Director/Composer for the ABC TV show, Operation Entertainment and for Steve Allen, building a substantial ASCAP rating. Gibbs also taught Steve Allen to play the vibes.
Gibbs, throughout his illustrious career has enjoyed world acclaim playing with greats such as clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillepsie, Horace Silver, Max Roach, Art Blakely, Elvin Jones and Tito Puente. Co-leading a quintet, he had an unprecedented nomination in four categories of the Playboy Jazz Poll: Best Vibraphonist, Best Quartet, Best Big Band and Best Band Leader. His association with DeFranco has spanned 18 years and is still an invigorating collaboration today.
With 65 albums to his credit, winner of 3 major jazz polls and creator of 300+ compositions (recorded by Gibbs, Nat Cole, Les Brown, Cannonball Adderly, Count Basie, George Shearing, etc.), Gibbs has left an indelible mark in the world of vibes.