Mike Vax/Clark Terry: Creepin’ with Clark

On Creepin’ With Clark, Terry’s CD with the former Stan Kenton and Dukes of Dixieland trumpet virtuoso Mike Vax, chops are flying everywhere, to borrow Louis Armstrong’s phrase. Technically, they play to pretty much a draw. Terry’s creativity, however, renders comparisons of technique meaningless. As he enters his 80s, his individuality continues unabated and appears to be deepening in ballads and slow blues. His one-chorus solo on “Creole Love Call” is one of Terry’s warmest and most heartfelt blues expressions on record. Vax reflects his true calling in the power, range and precision of his lead work on “Royal Street Shuffle,” ending a thrilling ride in the ionosphere above double high C. Terry’s match in expressivity and taste is trombonist John Allred. Allred’s work on Terry’s “Serenade to a Bus Seat,” the first solo in the album, sets a high standard that he underlines in his every appearance. From among his “hits,” Terry also revives “One Foot in the Gutter,” “Just a Simple Waltz” and “Sheba,” the latter with a lyrical flugelhorn solo. Experienced Terry bandmates pianist Reggie Thomas, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Sylvia Cuenca are splendid throughout. This is a happy and often moving collection.