In Orbit: CLARK TERRY Quartet with THELONIOUS MONK
Clark Terry (flh) Thelonious Monk (p) Sam Jones (b) Philly Joe Jones (drs)
New York; May 7 and 12,1958
1. In Orbit (4:37) (Clark Terry)
2. One Foot in the Gutter (7:14) (Clark Terry)
3. Trust in Me (4:30)
4. Let's Cool One (5:43) (Thelonious Monk)
1. Pea-Eye (4:25) (Clark Terry)
2. Argentia (6:08) (Clark Terry)
3. Moonlight Fiesta (2:33) (Mills – Tizol)
4. Buck's Business (3:20) (Clark Terry)
5. Very Near Blue (3:03) (Sara Cassey)
There are several reasons for considering this an extraordinary album. For one thing, there is CLARK TERRY’s skilled use of the fluegelhorn. (This is very possibly the first time that this off-trail trumpet-like instrument – normally to be found only in austere symphonic brass sections – has been put to work as the lead voice in a ‘blowing’ jazz date.) For another, this is one of those almost-as-rare occasions on which THELONIOUS MONK, one of the major figures of modern jazz, has recorded as a sideman.
This combination – an odd and difficult instrument; plus the presence in a supporting role of a strong-willed musician so accustomed to functioning as leader – might have posed problems. It did not. Quite to the contrary, the recording sessions for this album were among the smoothest and happiest in a long time. All concerned were operating someplace up near top level (which in these cases is quite formidably high), and the music produced seems to reflect very clearly all these fortunate circumstances. In short, the feeling here is that, as the title In Orbit should suggest, it was all way out there with the satellites, and swinging.
This is Terry’s third album for Riverside, and this vastly talented and inventive horn man has made each a valid and thoroughly different contribution. Serenade to a Bus Seat (RLP 12-237) was a joyful swinger – one reviewer noted with surprise that it proved that bop didn’t have to sound angry! In Duke with a Difference (RLP 12-246), a group entirely composed of present and past Ellingtons (Clark has been featured with the band since 1951) offered some of Duke’s tunes in definitely non-Duke-style treatments.
The present album spotlights Terry’s fairly recent affections for the fluegelhorn, and instrument that has of late intrigued several jazz trumpet men. But few have paid sufficient attention to this tricky but potentially rewarding horn – Clark, for example, is one of the few to bother using the proper, broader fluegelhorn mouthpiece. Most importantly, he has gone well beyond the usual initial feeling that it is limited to “a nice sound for ballads.” The horn does have a lovely, mellow tone – although shaped rather like a mildly swollen cornet, its sound is closest to a French horn – but to someone with the facility to really get around on the valves, it can also give a unique flavor at swift tempos. (Note such as In Orbit, Pea-Eye and Buck’s Business – Terry originals that would defeat less adept men attempting them on trumpet, cornet, pennywhistle, or what-have-you).
Clark has been talking t us about a fluegelhorn album as long as he has been around Riverside, and he has always had quite definite ideas in mind. He has never considered this instrument as either a trick gimmick or a total replacement or the trumpet, but rather as a horn with its own specific kinds of valid and interesting jazz possibilities. He has wanted a distinctive overall feeling: mellow, funky, and blues-oriented are all adjectives that have come up during discussions of the matter. And he has always thought of Monk as the ideal pianist for the LP. Fortunately, Thelonious has for quite some time been one of the most vigorous of Clark Terry fans; when the idea was outlined to him, Thelonious was eager to take part.
Now, Monk has on occasion been unjustly accused on either inability or unwillingness to accompany: to play ensemble piano or work behind soloists on numbers not composed or arranged by himself. The incisive, frequently witty and always helpful performance he turns in here should take care of that idea, or at least prove that it obviously doesn’t apply when Thelonious feels an affinity for the people and music involved. This happened to be my first opportunity to work with Monk on a session other than one under this leadership. A Monk date is always stimulating, but often full of creative tensions; here, however, with no need for him to be concerned with anything other than playing, Thelonious was wonderfully relaxed and outgoing. There is some really top-level Monk piano work here, including such a gem as what can only be called his barrelhouse-Ellington approach to the gutty One Foot in the Gutter.
The repertoire includes five tuneful Terry originals, plus a melodic and neglected old standard, Trust in Me; a similarly overlooked Latinesque tune (Moonlight Fiesta) by the long-time Ellington trombonist, Juan Tizol; Monk’s Let’s Cool One (set up to feature drummer Philly Joe Jones); and Very Near Blue, a startlingly poignant piece especially prepared for Terry and fluegelhorn by a talented new writer, Sara Cassey.
As for the personnel: Terry is St. Louis born (in December, 1920), has worked mostly in big bands (among them Count Basie’s and Ellington’s), and is widely acknowledged by critics and musicians as one of the surest and most original of current trumpet men. Monk is Monk – a founding father of modern jazz and a profound influence on a vast number of today’s top stars, only recently beginning to gain proper recognition (1958 piano award-winner in the Down Beat Critics Poll). Sam Jones is a more-than-promising young bassist who has worked with, among others, Cannonball Adderley and Kenny Dorham; this LP was his first work for Riverside, but is quickly being followed by more. Philly Joe Jones (not related to Sam) who came into prominence through his work with Miles Davis and is Riverside’s most frequently used drummer, on this album fulfilled a longstanding ambition to record with Monk.
Terry previous Riverside albums are –
Serenade to a Bus Seat: CLARK TERRY Quintet; with Johnny Griffin, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-237)
Duke with a Difference: CLARK TERRY, with Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Billy Strayhorn (RLP 12-246)
Clark also appears on one of the several outstanding Monk LPs issued on Riverside –
Brilliant corners: THELONIUIOS MONK, with Sonny Rollins, Ernie Henry, Clark Terry, Max
Roach (RLP 12-226)
Mulligan Meets Monk: GERRY MULLIGAN and THELONIOUS MONK (RLP 12-247)
Thelonious in Action: THELONIOUS MONK Quartet at the Five Spot Café, with Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-262)
Monk’s Music: THELONIOUS MONK Septet; with Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, Art Blakey (RLP 12-242)
Thelonious Himself: solo piano (RLP 12-235)
The Unique THELONIUOS MONK (RLP 120209)
THELONIOUS MONK Plays Duke Ellington (RLP 12-201)
Philly Joe Jones and Sam Jones can be heard as a team on –
Portrait of Cannonball: JULIAN ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-269)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording – Riverside-Reeves SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering
(Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)
Produced, and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by PAUL BACON; cover photograph: JACK MANNING
Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios)
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.