Clark Terry in two modes – both recorded for Impulse
Records in the 60s! The Happy Horns is a really great little album – one that really gets at the bright, joyous feel that Clark Terry brings to his music! Despite the "happy" in the title – which might make you think this one would be a bit silly – the album's a pretty great record! Terry plays both trumpet and flugelhorn (hence the "horns" in the title) – and he's working with a spare, tight, and surprisingly creative group that includes drummer Walter Perkins, bassist Milt Hinton, pianist Roger Kellaway, and the sax team of Phil Woods and Ben Webster. Tunes are light and playful, but never sloppy – instead quite inventive, and done in a way that's halfway between Terry's own late 50s work as a leader (as on Argo), and some of his work on sessions like Ed Thigpen's magnificent Out Of The Storm. Titles include "Jazz Conversations", "High Towers", "In A Mist", "Rockin In Rhythm", "Return To Swahili", and "Impulsive". It's What's Happenin is a very groovy record – one of the most unique from trumpeter Clark Terry! At the end of the 60s, many soul jazz sax players – like Eddie Harris and Lou Donaldson – turned towards the new electric technology of the Varitone company in an attempt to keep up with the electric guitar-driven pop music that was beating them out in record sales. While that trend worked large for the sax players, Clark Terry's one of the few trumpeters we can think of who gave the Varitone a try – and surprisingly, it was a great way to capture the playful style that Terry had been developing during the mid 60s. The album's nothing fancy, but the Varitone gives Terry a nice tone that works well with the easy trio backing led by pianist Don Friedman, and featuring Dave Bailey on drums and George Duvivier on bass. The album includes an extended jazzy reading of Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite", plus "Electric Mumbles", "Take Me Back To Elkhart", and "Tee Pee Time".