On the day this lovely recording was released, co-leaders Clark Terry (trumpet) and Max Roach (drums), legends both, were 82 and 79 years old respectively. Perhaps it would be best to get the clichés out of the way. Yes, it’s important that elder statesmen of jazz keep recording, and no one deserves that title more than these gentlemen. And it’s also great that the "old" guys have still “got it,” as they both most assuredly do. But what about the music? Friendship
is a recording of fresh, swinging music with broad but intelligent appeal to committed Terry or Roach fans as well as new listeners just coming to an appreciation of these great musicians. Clark Terry demonstrates the flawless technique, buttery sound, and elegant, good-natured, witty improvisation for which he is famous. Roach offers, as always, a powerful conception of the drums, using a wide and creative sound palette. His approach on this recording is so unassuming that it is easy to lose sight of how complete his playing is in itself. “Lil’ Max,” for example, is a musical whole. It takes a bit of attention to realize that it is also an unaccompanied drum solo.
Both Don Friedman (piano) and the inexplicably under-recognized Marcus McLaurine (bass) have long been associated with Terry. Everyone sounds comfortable with themselves, each other, and the straightforward, but demanding quartet setting. Friendship
also has an eclectic side. The album begins with “Statements,” a free jazz duet between the co-leaders. The set includes Monk’s “Let’s Cool One” and the standards “But Beautiful,” "When I Fall in Love,” “Makin’ Whoopee,” “The Nearness of You,” and “I Remember Clifford.”
By continuing to perform at this level, Terry and Roach, who for decades have had nothing to prove to anyone, not only enrich us musically yet againthey also teach important lessons about artistic integrity. We are lucky to have their example.