The brilliant Clark Terry for how else can one describe this trumpet/flugelhorn player who over the years has shone so brightly with not only Duke Ellington (1951-59), but also with Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor. But that was just early on in his long, distinguished career. To this day he has been a marvelous technician, a distinctive voice, and a relentlessly creative mind. Swing,bebop, avant-garde what does it matter, it seems it’s all music to Clark Terry who has consistently stepped up to the microphone with something to say.
Daylight Express presents Terry in quintet and sextet settings sharing the spotlight with then fellow Ellingtonian Paul Gonsalves on tenor saxophone (or local Chicago saxophonist Mike Simpson). A third Ellingtonian Sam Woodyard is on drums, and a fourth, Jimmy Woode on bass. Two local Chicago musicians, Willie Jones, and Remo Biondi fill out the piano and guitar slots. This is a band that plays very comfortably together in a straight-ahead swing mode.
The year is 1957; the original label is Argo Records, later reissued by Chess Records. This disc is a compilation of two sessions recorded in mid-summer, two weeks apart. The band has the easy rapport of old friends playing together; but the spotlight is on Clark Terry who track after track demonstrates why he is one of the most respected jazz musicians of our time. On these recordings he effortlessly switches styles from blues to ballads to New Orleans to his own outrageous scat trumpet dialogs that are slapstick jazz at its best. If jazz is typified by a vocal orientation to the playing of an instrument, then Clark Terry’s inflections, slurs, and quirky dialects ought to ultimately place him among the most distinctive of brass singers.
Although the spotlight is mostly on Terry, tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves’ solos are especially good on the blues and the ballads. He has a warm, sensual tone. His unison work with Terry has a comfortable feel that undoubtedly reflects their long friendship and professional association. In the minor quibble category, while Terry is his usual extraordinarily creative self, at times Gonsalves seems to struggle to find something to say during some of his longer solos. The rhythm section is good, but not up to the level of the best of the small group "Ellingtonian" units. These are small flaws in a consistently satisfying recording that serves as an excellent introduction to - or reminder of - the unique voice of Clark Terry.
Personnel: Clark Terry,trumpet; Paul Gonsalves,or Mike Simpson, saxophone;Willie Jones, piano; Remo Biondi,guitar; Jimmy Woode,bass; and Sam Woodyard,drums.