Jazz CD Reviews
Clark Terry Quintet – Serenade to a Bus Seat – Riverside
Published on October 16, 2007
(Clark Terry, trumpet; Johnny Griffin, tenor sax; Wynton Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)
Remastered at 24-bit from the original master tapes, Riverside Records had an easy task in deciding to bring back Clark Terry’s classic 1957 session for their Keepnews Collection. In ’57, Terry had only recorded three or four albums as a leader, and had not yet developed the superstar trumpet mantle that he holds today, in his mid 80s. He is one of the last remaining horn men with the distinction of playing trumpet both in the Count Basie (1948-1951) AND the Duke Ellington Orchestra (1951-1959).
The title cut of this session refers to Clark’s extended travels by bus with both of these swing heavyweight bands. Unlike Duke and Basie’s mostly swing songbook, Serenade to a Bus Seat, is largely bop territory. That much could be expected in 1957 when the tenor man was Johnny Griffin. Opening with Bird’s Donna Lee sets the stage. However, Terry’s Boardwalk, arrangement matches Clark’s mainstream trumpet swing with Griffin’s bop stance. Boomerang is off to the bop races again until Terry solos with more midrange tone. Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones – a dream rhythm section as one might find during this time period – each have their statement to make on Boomerang, and Chamber’s arco bowing is a treat.
Digits has classic Terry blowing and Stardust has a lovely reading with a subdued section from Griffin, who shows he is not all speed and fire. Clark Terry during this period was at his peak and Stardust is his calling card for power and soulful swing. Cruising was the sole hard boppish entry and the trumpet/sax blend is superlative.
Now in his mid 80s, Clark is justifiably slowing down. Taking a bus trip back to the late 50s with Terry is time well spent in documenting the genius of one of the all time trumpet greats.
Tracklist: Donna Lee, Boardwalk, Boomerang, Digits, Serenade to a Bus Seat, Stardust, Cruising, That Old Black Magic
– Jeff Krow