Clark Terry – The Happy Horns of Clark Terry

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More The Happy Horns of Clark Terry

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  • Clark Terry’s three horn lineup album finally arrives on the site with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end AND exceptionally quiet vinyl 
  • Big and lively, rich and full, no other copy in our shootout impressed us the way this killer pressing did
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies
  • 4 stars: “This all-star LP has plenty of memorable moments… The lively music is quite enjoyable.”

We dropped the needle on a copy of the album a few months back and immediately we knew it would be a record worthy of a shootout – the sound was big and lively in the best tradition of Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings from the mid-’60s. His sound is the right sound for this style of music, that’s for damn sure.

This vintage Impulse LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of this Swingin’ Jazz album from 1964 have to offer is clear for all to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1964
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the keyboards, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Happy Horns

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack the full complement of harmonic information.

In addition, when the top end is lacking, the upper midrange and high frequencies get jammed together — the highs can’t extend up and away from the upper mids. This causes a number of much-too-common problems that we hear in the upper midrange of many of the records we play: congestion, hardness, harshness, and squawk. (Painstaking VTA adjustment is absolutely critical if you want your records to play with the least amount of these problems, a subject we discuss in the Commentary section of the site at length.)

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the ’50s and ’60s. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have little or none, yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Full-bodied sound is especially critical to the horns; any blare, leanness or squawk ruins at least some of the fun, certainly at the louder levels the record should be playing at.

The frequency extremes (on the best copies) are not boosted in any way. When you play this record quietly, the bottom and top will disappear (due to the way the ear handles quieter sounds as described by the Fletcher-Munson curve).

Most records (like most audiophile stereos) are designed to sound correct at moderate levels. Not this album. It wants you to turn it up. Then, and only then, will everything sound completely right musically and tonally from top to bottom.

The Players

Clark Terry – trumpet, flugelhorn
Phil Woods – alto saxophone, clarinet
Ben Webster – tenor saxophone
Roger Kellaway – piano
Milt Hinton – bass
Walter Perkins – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Rockin’ In RhythmB
In A Mist
Return TO Swahili
Ellington Rides Again (a medley):

a) Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
b) Perdido
c) I’m Beginning to See the Light

Side Two

Impulsive
Do Nothin’ Til You Hear From Me
Jazz Conversations
High Towers
Hammerhead Waltz

AMG 4 Star Review

This all-star LP has plenty of memorable moments. Flugelhornist Clark Terry teams up with altoist Phil Woods (who doubles on clarinet), tenor great Ben Webster, pianist Roger Kellaway, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Walter Perkins for a varied program that includes a rollicking version of “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” Bix Beiderbecke’s “In a Mist,” a Duke Ellington medley, and “Return to Swahili,” which is mostly a flügelhorn-drums duet. The lively music is quite enjoyable.

His Big Band Era

Clark Virgil Terry Jr. (December 14, 1920 – February 21, 2015) was an American swing and bebop trumpeter, a pioneer of the flugelhorn in jazz, composer, educator, and NEA Jazz Masters inductee.

He played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948–51), Duke Ellington (1951–59), Quincy Jones (1960), and Oscar Peterson (1964-96). He was also with The Tonight Show Band from 1962 to 1972. Terry’s career in jazz spanned more than 70 years, during which he became one of the most recorded jazz musicians ever, appearing on over 900 recordings. Terry also mentored many musicians including Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Dianne Reeves, and Terri Lyne Carrington among thousands of others.

Blending the St. Louis tone with contemporary styles, Terry’s years with Basie and Ellington in the late 1940s and 1950s established his prominence. During his period with Ellington, he took part in many of the composer’s suites and acquired a reputation for his wide range of styles (from swing to hard bop), technical proficiency, and good humor. Terry influenced musicians including Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, both of whom acknowledged Terry’s influence during the early stages of their careers. Terry had informally taught Davis while they were still in St Louis, and Jones during Terry’s frequent visits to Seattle with the Count Basie Sextet.

After leaving Ellington in 1959, Clark’s international recognition soared when he accepted an offer from the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) to become a staff musician. He appeared for ten years on The Tonight Show as a member of the Tonight Show Band until 1972, first led by Skitch Henderson and later by Doc Severinsen, where his unique “mumbling” scat singing led to a hit with “Mumbles”. Terry was the first African American to become a regular in a band on a major US television network. He said later: “We had to be models, because I knew we were in a test…. We couldn’t have a speck on our trousers. We couldn’t have a wrinkle in the clothes. We couldn’t have a dirty shirt.”

Terry continued to play with musicians such as trombonist J. J. Johnson and pianist Oscar Peterson, and led a group with valve-trombonist Bob Brookmeyer that achieved some success in the early 1960s. In February 1965, Brookmeyer and Terry appeared on BBC2’s Jazz 625. and in 1967, presented by Norman Granz, he was recorded at Poplar Town Hall, in the BBC series Jazz at the Philharmonic, alongside James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson, Bob Cranshaw, Louie Bellson and T-Bone Walker.

In the 1970s, Terry concentrated increasingly on the flugelhorn, which he played with a full, ringing tone. In addition to his studio work and teaching at jazz workshops, Terry toured regularly in the 1980s with small groups (including Peterson’s) and performed as the leader of his Big B-A-D Band (formed about 1970). After financial difficulties forced him to break up the Big B-A-D Band, he performed with bands such as the Unifour Jazz Ensemble. His humor and command of jazz trumpet styles are apparent in his “dialogues” with himself, on different instruments or on the same instrument, muted and unmuted.

-Wikipedia