Reference Recordings, the audiophile label out of San Francisco, has combined two mid-1990s Clark Terry releases, Big Band Basie and Clark Terry Express, into The Chicago Sessions. Recorded almost exactly a year apart in December 1994 and 1995, in the concert hall of DePaul University, this release features Clark up front on trumpet and Flugelhorn, soloing on mostly Basie standards. He is backed ably by the Bob Lark-led DePaul University Big Band. Lark has been no stranger lately to our reviews as he has had recent releases both in duos with Phil Woods, and as a band director for the DePaul Big Band, with Woods as a soloist. In the liner notes, Lark states that along with being a consummate trumpeter for decades, that Terry has also been one of the founding fathers of college jazz education.
Today at age 86, Clark Terry has understandably lost a bit of his lung power, but just 12 years ago, as evidenced on this CD, his chops were top notch and the big band energy clearly inspired him as his fiery solos attest. We also get Clark’s scat singing (and Satchmo impersonation) on Just Squeeze Me. An added treat on the 1994 date is the appearance of Frank Wess on flute, on Jessica’s Day and Swinging the Blues.
To complete this winning two-fer is a nice remastering by Keith O. Johnson, referred to here in “A Prof Johnson 24-Bit HDCD Recording.” I wouldn’t call this a true hi-res recording, but it certainly is a cut above the typical mid-90s remastering. [Those slogans, such as 24-bit and 96K, refer to the mastering process; the final product is still limited to 44.1K/16-bit. But as many audiophile CDs and xrcds have demonstrated, it’s quite amazing what can often be achieved despite those limitations…Ed.]
TrackList: Just Squeeze Me, C.T.’s Express, The Star-Crossed Lovers, Jessica’s Day, Harlem Airshaft, Swinging the Blues, Do Nothing ‘til You Hear From Me, I Want a Little Girl, Easy Does It, Launching Pad, Cottontail, Moten Swing, Something to Live For
– Jeff Krow