Monday, September 24, 2007

Clark Terry - Serenade to a Bus Seat (Riverside 1957, Concord 2007)

Trumpeter Clark Terry was a well regarded if relatively unknown big band musician when he made this recording with saxophonist Johnny Griffin, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones.The album starts out with a storming version of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" played with flair and some great drum breaks from Philly Joe. Terry was playing in the Duke Ellington Orchestra at the time, but had no problem moving from swing music to the speed and intricacy of bebop. The Terry original "Boardwalk" has a soulful and swinging melody at medium tempo, and the strut of the tune gives a nod to the music Horace Silver was composing at this time. There is a confident exchange of ideas between trumpet and saxophone here as well. "Boomerang" moves back into upbeat territory, trading boppish solo sports crisply like a well practiced basketball team moving the ball. "Digits" and the title track add fine solos from Griffin who really puts the hammer down on "Serenade" playing scalding Parker influenced bebop. The standard "Stardust" slows things down from the breakneck pace to a ballad tempo. Terry is featured playing slow and tart, and making the most of every note.The upbeat and aptly titled "Cruising" and the brief coda of a Latin-flavored version of "That Old Black Magic" finish up a very fine album of bebop jazz. The liner notes are good, offering the original notes to the album as well as Orrin Keepnews' reflections about both Terry and the sessions that produced this album.

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