The Hymn

LABELS: Candid
ALBUM TITLE: Clark Terry Quintet
PERFORMER: Clark Terry(t, flg, v), Jesse Davis (as), Don Friedman (p), Marcus McLaurine (b), Sylvia Cuenca (d)


Clark Terry, one of the most distinctive trumpet stylists in jazz, wears his instrumental genius lightly, with grace and warmth. This dynamic album was recorded live at Birdland, New York City, in June 1993, when Terry was in his 73rd year and still at the height of his powers – amazing technique and flexibility plus a quicksilver imagination and puckish humour. His musicians are excellent: Davis is a compelling bop altoist, Friedman is an exceptional pianist who is always interesting whether as accompanist or soloist and the rhythm section is superlative.

The opening title track, a Charlie Parker composition, is taken at breakneck speed, but Terry solos with adventurous ease, cunningly varying his phrases – it’s an electrifying start. ‘My Romance’ is a passionately tender performance, ending with a brilliant Terry flugelhorn cadenza. Terry the entertainer plays wah-wah trumpet in ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ and sings like Armstrong with great humour. ‘Mood Indigo’ is given a dramatic 12-minute performance doubling the tempo with the entry of each soloist.


Other highlights are a bravura and dangerous version of ‘Is It True What They Say About Dixie?’, and the ambidextrous Terry with trumpet in one hand and flugelhorn in the other, dialoguing with himself in Grofé’s ‘On the Trail’. An amazingly versatile talent in full flight.