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Trumpeter Clark Terry has long been known to have a puckish sense of humor. That he still has it is obvious when he jumps in on the pliant rhythm set up by Max Roach to simmer and stir the blues with growling note chewing intensity. One minute and 45 seconds later he is done, leaving in his wake a stunning statement not only of the state of the art, but of his playing as well. And at the end of it all one can visualise him with that good natured smile.
Terry continues to be a player for whom expressiveness and invention are natural outcomes of his craft. His tone, rich and full, lends vitality and credence to the music. Roach, the architect of rhythm, builds his pulse through dynamic textures, layer upon layer. He uses space in his time with that same extraordinary sense that has imbued his music for 60 years. Take “Lil Max,” his solo outing. The beat is sharply etched; the accents ride the snares, shaping soundscapes that lilt and dance and build little whorls that moan and whoomp. Roach and Terry's chemistry is witnessed in their duets, including the delectable “Simple Waltz” where Roach sets the tempo and Terry glides in.
The aural delights are evinced right through. “Let’s Cool One” is taken at a brisk, wonderfully swinging pace. Terry brings in a nice fat tone on the flugelhorn as he grooves in controlled abandon. Pianist Don Friedman is scintillating, his playing vibrant and flowing. It is all rounded nicely with bassist Marcus McLaurine essaying a sturdy beat that never lets go of the melodic core. Terry goes solo on “When I Fall In Love” and on “The Nearness Of You,” and they are remarkable performances indeed. His control is tight even as he improvises on the melody lines. Clark Terry's gorgeous playing on “I Remember Clifford” is also deeply moving. Roach sat this one out. It’s said that he found the memories too emotional.
This is music that stirs the soul and warms the heart.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.