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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Shades of Blues

Challenge Jazz CHR 70007



1. Hip Hat Blues
2. Sluggo
3. Salty Mama
4. The View from Glencove
5. Whispering the Blues
6. Cool Vibes
7. Greazy Blues
8. Funky Butt
9. Parker's Mood
10. Hootie's Blues
11. St Louis Blues

Clark Terry - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Al Grey - Trombone
Charles Fox - Piano
Marcus McLaurine - Bass


This reissued album from 1994 is unusual in at least two respects. It consists entirely of blues tunes, and there is no drummer in the quartet. But then every Clark Terry album is unusual because he is unique. Many of the best jazz musicians are special because they have a sound or style that is totally individual. Clark Terry is one of those players that you can identify when he has played only a few notes, as the mellow sound he gets from the trumpet and flugelhorn is utterly his own.

Clark Terry was 73 when this album was recorded but there is no diminution in his abilities. Indeed, Hein Van der Geyn's updated sleeve-note says that Terry has "just started playing again after suffering from some medical complications". The line-up is completed by trombonist Al Grey (who also has a personal tone: gruff and buzzy), pianist Charles Fox (a long-time friend of Terry's - not the former British jazz critic) and bassist Marcus McLaurine, who had worked with Clark Terry for 13 years.

The result is a very happy session, mainly consisting of uplifting rather than doleful blues. Clark Terry wrote most of the tunes, except for the three final tracks and Al Grey's composition Salty Mama. This last is a groovy blues which includes the pianist playing George Shearing-style block chords (as he does frequently) and a sunny solo from Clark.

On Whispering the Blues, Terry does his comically incomprehensible Mumbles-style vocals. The View from Glencove has a muted Terry playing as swiftly and fluently as Dizzy Gillespie, accompanied only by the double bass. The bassist also excels in his solo on Greazy Blues, a slow number which has soulful playing from Terry, some shameless quotations from Fox, and a gloriously growling plunger duet between Terry and Grey. The group makes the most of the closing St Louis Blues, with Clark Terry eloquently outspoken, Charles Fox puckish, and Al Grey conversing in wah-wah mode.

As a drummer, I was afraid that this album could lack bite, but it has plenty of that. I was also worried that a whole album of the blues might be boring but there's nothing boring about these musicians.

Tony Augarde

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