…the band pulls out all the stops to create an album that will get your feet tapping and your heart racing with the sheer joy of the sound.

Capri Records Capri 74170-2

Sal Lozano (alto sax); Bob Sheppard (tenor, soprano saxes); Kirsten Edkins (tenor sax); Adam Schroeder (baritone sax); Francisco Torres (lead trombone); Ido Meshulam (trombone); Lenar Guillary (trombone); Dan Fornero (lead trumpet); James Ford (trumpet); Aaron Janik (trumpet); Edwin Livingston (bass); Peter Erskine (drums)

Recorded 15 & 16 June 2023 Tritone Studios, Glendale, California

This is a glorious tribute to a remarkable musician. Clark Terry was many things – a trumpeter who spanned the swing, bebop and hard bop eras, and a mentor to many musicians including Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis. He was also a composer and helped popularise the flugelhorn in jazz music. The list of artists Terry played with was extensive and included Ellington, Basie, Dizzy, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson and Gerry Mulligan. Terry played with great swing and passion, and there was a joyous feel to his sound. This reflected the man himself, who was described by those who met or played with him as a kind, generous, joyful person.

Baritone saxophonist Adam Schroeder has joined forces with arranger Mark Masters to create this homage to Terry and his music. The original plan to release an album in 2020, the hundredth anniversary of Terry’s birth (he died in 2015, aged 94) but the Covid pandemic put paid to that. Still, good things are well worth waiting for and this release is one of them.

When Schroeder was a high school student, he was invited to fill the baritone sax role in the student big band at Clark Terry’s International Institute of Jazz Studies. He forged a strong musical relationship with Terry, which endured until the trumpeter’s death. Schroeder has played in the Clark Terry Big Band in New York; led his own quartet and quintet, and played with Ray Charles, Diana Krall and John Pizzarelli. He asked Mark Masters to write the arrangements for thirteen Terry compositions for a 12-piece ensemble comprising of four saxophones, three trombones, three trumpets, plus bass and drums. Masters has garnered a strong reputation as an inventive jazz arranger and led a number of ensembles, including one which recorded the 2012 album, Ellington Saxophone Encounters.

The rhythm section comprises of drummer Peter Erskine, from Weather Report and Steps Ahead, and bassist Edwin Livingston, who has worked with Bob Mintzer, Sadao Watanabe, John Beasley and Elvin Jones.

The opening two numbers set the template for the album’s sound. ‘Serenade to a Bus Seat’ (They don’t make titles like that anymore) is a swinging, vibrant number, with Schroeder’s rich deep baritone sax growling along with a big band sound that fizzes with joy and energy. Blues-soaked ‘Ground Hog’ is so laid back it’s almost flat on its back. Driven by Livingston’s loping, walking bass line and Erskine’s slow, rock-steady beat, horns rise and fall, criss-cross, or combine to create a wall of sound, over which Schroeder solos on baritone sax. ‘Ode to Pres’ has tremendous interplay between the various horn sections, as well solid solos from tenor saxophonist Kirsten Edkins and trombonist Ido Meshulam.

The rhythm section is outstanding, especially on one of my favourite numbers, ‘Daylite Express,’ with Livingston playing a muscular bass riff and Erskine providing a tight syncopated beat. Whether it’s slower numbers like ‘Broadwalk,’ ‘Michelle’ and ‘Slow Boat,’ or energetic swingers like ‘Perdido Line,’ ‘Swingin’ On The Cusp,’ ‘Top and Bottom,’ and ‘In Orbit,’ the band pulls out all the stops to create an album that will get your feet tapping and your heart racing with the sheer joy of the sound. Mr Terry: the band did you proud.