This is a "two fer" album. Not that there are two discs for the price of one. Rather the album is divided between instrumentals by Clark Terry's regular quintet and the other with Terry and the group accompanying four very good jazz/blues singers. The affair was part of a floating jazz festival on the Queen Elizabeth 2 with more than 1700 people in attendance. It's not clear from the liner notes whether all the tracks were the products of the voyage. But that's a matter for discographers to be concerned with.
On the instrumental side, the Quintet dazzles with a variety of tunes, standards, bop anthems, Terry originals and the rarely heard tune made famous by Phil Harris "Is It True What They Say about Dixie". The group is in fine fettle as Terry and alto player David Glasser work in tandem on several of the cuts such as "Opus Ocean" which features some swinging up and down the keyboard piano by another veteran, Don Friedman. This cut is the album's heaviest workout for the Quintet.
The vocal half of the album features four fine singers in Vanessa Rubin (a replacement for Terri Thornton), Shirley Horn, Etta Jones and Carrie Smith. They all do very well, but its Carrie Smith's "Coffee Grinder Blues"/"Empty Bed Blues" medley with Terry offering responses to the lyrics that steals the singer show. We don't hear enough from this excellent blues singer. Close behind is as Terry/Rubin duet on "Just Squeeze Me" conversing with each other in wordless vocalizing.
There was another vocal on the set which was not included on the disc because of poor recording quality. Oscar Peterson was in the front row during the performance and sang "Route 66" into a hand-held mike. I hope they didn't throw away the tape.
As always, these live sessions are informal and laid back. The CD includes the chattering back and forth between performers and audience. Everybody was having a good time. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Opus Ocean; The Nearness of You; East of the Sun**; Etta's Fine and Mellow Blues**; The Snapper; Just Squeeze Me#; Is It True What They Say about Dixie?; Everyday I Have the Blues##; Coffee Grinder Blues/Empty Bed Blues##; The Hymn; Shirley's Intro; But Beautiful*; The Theme
Personnel: Clark Terry - Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Vocals#; David Glasser - Alto Sax; Don Friedman - Piano; Marcus McLaurine - Bass; Sylvia Cuenca - Drums; Shirley Horn* - Piano/Vocals; Vanessa Rubin#, Etta Jones**, Carrie Smith## - Vocals