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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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CLARK TERRY

Sextet and Octet

Fresh Sound FSR-CD 593

 

 


1. More
2. Hobo Flats
3. This is All I Ask
4. Gravy Waltz
5. Sid's Mark
6. The Good Life
7. Antony and Cleopatra Theme
8. Meditation
9. The Lights across the River
10. Blues Fr'ell
11. Georgia on my Mind
12. Free and Oozy
13. Misty
14. Sapphire Blue
15. Sweet Juke
16. Lilies of the Field (Amen)
17. Tread Ye Lightly
18. Freedom Blues

Clark Terry - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Ben Webster - Tenor sax (tracks 1-10)
Roger Kellaway - Piano, celeste (tracks 1-10)
Gene Bertoncini - Guitar
Bill Crow - Bass (tracks 1-10)
Dave Bailey - Drums
Seldon Powell - Flute, tenor sax, baritone sax (tracks 11-18)
Buddy Lucas - Harmonica, tenor sax, Jew's harp, kazoo (tracks 11-18)
Al Epstein - Tenor sax, congas (tracks 11-18)
Ray Bryant - Piano (tracks 11-18)
Major Holley - Bass (tracks 11-18)
Willie Rodriguez - Congas, percussion (tracks 11-18)

 

In an earlier review of a Clark Terry album, I wrote that "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"

This holds true for this new CD, which consists of two original LPs, entitled respectively More and Tread Ye Lightly. They were both recorded in mid-1963 = the first one by a sextet, the second by an octet. What I said above about Clark Terry's individuality also applies to Ben Webster, who shares the spotlight with Terry on the first LP. Both men did some of their best work with Duke Ellington's orchestra, but they were equally adept at performing in small groups like these. There is a relaxed elegance in both musicians' playing.

The original LP More advertised on the cover the fact that the title-track was the theme for the film Mondo Cane, which came out in 1961. The easy-going nature of this bossa nova seems at odds with the film's theme of a degraded world, but the sextet plays it with charm. Meditation is another bossa, with the unusual sound of the celeste as played by Roger Kellaway.

Four members of the group contribute echoing wordless vocals to Hobo Flats, suggesting the mournful sound of a distant railroad train. There is a strong feeling of the blues in Terry's keening solo and Webster's more placid improvisation. Other notable tracks include This is All I Ask, a ballad just made for Ben Webster's soulful tenor sax.; Ray Brown's groovy Gravy Waltz with some stratospheric trumpet from Clark; The Good Life with the melody feelingly stated by Terry while Webster doodles beneath; and a swinging version of Alex North's Antony and Cleopatra.

The second LP, Tread Ye Lightly (tracks 11-18) is by an octet, which gives more leeway for a variety of sounds. This is particularly true of Sweet Juke, which adds the Jew's harp and kazoo - courtesy of Buddy Lucas, who also plays harmonica on the rhythm-and-blues of Lilies of the Field. As in the previous album, many of the tracks have a bluesy feel, often emphasised by Ray Bryant's blues-drenched piano and Seldon Powell's tenor sax, which is more guttural than Ben Webster's. Seldon also adds some sweet flute to such numbers as Georgia on my Mind.

However, the undoubted star of this album is Clark Terry, who frequently seems to be talking to us through his trumpet or flugelhorn - and who also duets with himself on both instruments in turn. With crisp recording and a generous running-time of nearly 70 minutes, this is a very worthwhile compilation.

Tony Augarde



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