The irrepressible Clark Terry was a spry seventy–seven years old when this “Jazz Matinee” was recorded three years ago in Stuttgart, Germany. To hear him — on trumpet, flugelhorn or singing — is to summon forth images of a much younger man, so infectious is his boundless energy and unfailing good humor. About the latter, drummer Louie Bellson once said: “There has to be something wrong with anybody who can’t get along with Clark Terry.” As to his playing, Miles Davis called him “one of the best trumpeters in the world, if not the very best,” an assessment seconded by Dizzy Gillespie, who observed that “[Terry’s] flexibility and versatility make him one of the greatest. He can swing, he knows how to bop, he can do whatever he wants with his horn.” What he wants to do on this colorful session with the world–class SWR Big Band is entertain the rapt audience with a series of typically resourceful solos, which he does with relative ease, and with his engaging vocals on “Just Squeeze Me” and the amusing “Mumbles Returns” (on which one would almost swear he’s speaking an actual “language” that hasn’t yet been codified). Never comfortable on the sidelines, Terry solos on every number and shoulders the entire load on “Squeeze Me,” Ellington’s “Come Sunday” and Dave Slonaker’s “C.T.’s Express.” Elsewhere, he’s aided and abetted by a number of the ensemble’s top–drawer improvisers — saxophonists Rainer Heute, Andy Maile, Peter Weniger, Klaus Graf and Bernd Rabe; trumpeters Claus Reichstaller and Karl Farrent; trombonists Ian Cumming and Marc Godfroid, pianist Klaus Wagenleiter and bassist Decebal Badila. To show the versatility alluded to by Gillespie, Terry places his flugel in one hand, muted trumpet in the other and plays “against” himself on the scampering “Tee Pee Time,” then goes into the trenches to engage in hand–to–horn combat with Graf, Farrent and Reichstaller on Alan Foust’s funky “Cold Tater Stomp.” The SWR Big Band, powered by its superb rhythm section (Wagenleiter, Badila and drummer Jörg Gebhardt), swings audaciously from first note to last on this generously timed (72:06) concert date. With so many of Jazz’s acknowledged giants having left us, we are indeed fortunate that Clark Terry is still here. Now 80, he was diagnosed recently with colon cancer, which is no laughing matter. We are certain that we echo the sentiments of everyone in the Jazz community in wishing one of the great masters of trumpet and humor a swift and complete recovery.
Track Listing: The Zinger; Easy Does It; Come Sunday; A Penny for Your Thoughts; Jenny; C.T.
Personnel: Clark Terry, conductor, trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Thomas Vogel, Claus Reichstaller, Karl Farrent, Rudi Reindl, trumpet; Ernst Hutter, Marc Godfroid, Ian Cumming, Georg Maus, trombone; Bernd Rabe, Klaus Graf, alto sax; Peter Weninger, tenor, soprano sax; Andreas Maile, tenor sax; Rainer Heute, baritone sax; Klaus Wagenleiter, piano; Decebal Badila, bass; J