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Mike Vax: Creepin' With Clark

Jim Santella By

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Recorded last September 1-2 in New York, this sextet session features three horn players who’ve spent their professional careers expressing with tone quality in residence at the top of their priority lists. Each has achieved a clean, overtone-rich timbre that allows the artist to perform a wide variety of music that always sounds beautiful. What separates Clark Terry from the younger members, of course, is the vast wealth of expressive ideas he’s developed over the years. Terry doesn’t age; he just gets better year after year.

Summit’s liner notes do indicate the order of solos and trades, making it more enjoyable for the listener. Trumpeters Mike Vax and Clark Terry trade 8s and 4s throughout the session with a loose-knit playfulness. Vax is bright and brassy, while Terry is fine and mellow. However, neither stays with his trademark pattern for long, as the music takes many turns. Each trumpeter is flexible, changing as the music dictates. Both sing and mumble on a pleasant trad jazz "Royal Street Shuffle." Terry trades phrases between his left hand and right hand, using both trumpet and flugelhorn, for his original "One Foot in the Gutter." He converses with himself again on a bouncy blues "Jive at Five," employing his trademark mumbles technique in tandem with his tightly muted trumpet. Both trumpeters take the high road on occasion, sometimes brassy, sometimes mellow. Two lovely ballads, Clark Terry’s "Sheba" and Duke Ellington’s "Creole Love Call," allow room for sober expression. Vax’s "Creepin’ with Clark" and Terry’s "Just a Simple Waltz" invite some of the more interesting moments.

Alongside the two trumpeters, trombonist John Allred and pianist Reggie Thomas both pay homage to melody in support. Similarly, bassist Rufus Reid steps out front to express on occasion and – along with versatile drummer Sylvia Cuenca – holds the session’s rhythm as steady as needed. Clark Terry, who will turn 80 later this year, expresses in fine form with a terrific accompanying ensemble.


Track Listing: Serenade to a Bus Seat; Just a Simple Waltz; Royal Street Shuffle; Creole Love Call; Sweet Emma; Struttin

Personnel: Mike Vax, Clark Terry- trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; John Allred- trombone; Reggie Thomas- piano; Rufus Reid- bass; Sylvia Cuenca- drums.

Title: Creepin' With Clark | Year Released: 2000

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