Clark Terry, the ballad master…
Clark Terry – Clark After Dark, The Ballad Artistry of Clark Terry – MPS #0211531MSW – 180 gm vinyl – 1977 – ***1/2
(Clark Terry – flugelhorn; Gordon Beck – piano; Martin Kershaw – guitar; Chris Laurence – bass; Tristan Fry – percussion; Derek Watkins, Tony Fisher, Dave Hancock, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Blair – trumpets; Cliff Hardy, Dave Horler, Nat Peck, Ray Premru- trombones; Terry Johns – french horn; Roy Willox, Al Newman, Stan Sulzman, Tony Coe, Ronnie Ross – reeds
With 18 violins, 4 violas, 4 celli, and two double bass. Conductor and primary arranger – Peter Herbolzheimer)
Clark Terry was a master soloist on trumpet and flugelhorn. He was also a superb story teller, and had his own brand of scat singing with witty “mumbling” as its core. Terry had the unique privilege of playing in both the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands during his prime.
His ballad prowess is on full display in a 1977 MPS label release that has been remastered on 180 gm vinyl. It’s part of a major reissue of classic MPS issues, remastered on audiophile vinyl.
Clark After Dark was a major production from MPS. Recorded over four days in September, 1977 at the Olympic Sound Studio in London, Terry’s ballad skills are featured on ten tracks of classic standards (actually “November Song” and “Clark After Dark” are originals written by the albums’ producer, Mike Hennessey; and the title track by the conductor, Peter Herbolzheimer.) I found these two tracks to be the most stimulating of the entire album.
Several of the songs, such as “Nature Boy” and “Georgia on My Mind,” with swirling strings and Terry’s burnished tone, would be prime candidates for a moody movie soundtrack. Johnny Mandel’s song treasure, “Emily” is given tender treatment, while “Angel Eyes” gives Clark just a bit of time to improvise.
There are times however, when the strings overwhelm Terry. I also wished the arranger would have let the horns and reeds show their big band power shine on tracks such as on Neil Hefti’s “Girl Talk.”
There are limited solos for other lead band instruments. Some that stand out include Gordon Beck (piano) and Dave Horler (trombone) on the title track, as well as Tony Coe (tenor sax) on “Girl Talk.”
Fans of Mr. Terry will enjoy his “fine and mellow” ballad mastery throughout this 1977 album, now newly reissued, on 180 gm vinyl.
Georgia on My Mind
Clark After Dark
Willow Weep for Me