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Terry Myers: Smiles

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With his smooth, mellow-toned lucidity, tenor saxophonist Terry Myers evokes memories of swing-era stalwarts Bud Freeman and Budd Johnson. But when he lathers up-or pulls out his soprano sax-the thrust and grit of Zoot Sims come to mind. The fun begins as soon as you hit the play button: The sheer joy of Myers’ music comes out swinging as he bops an unaccompanied intro and plays the head of “Them There Eyes.” There is something left in the tank as the tenorman and his quartet turn on the turbo-chargers and fly into the round of solos with, of all things, a quote from “A Slow Boat to China.” Swinging in a parallel groove, pianist Johnny Varro channel-surfs between Teddy Wilson and Count Basie, giving way to Ed Metz, who batters the kit with a joviality akin to Gene Krupa and Art Blakey.

Myers is no less eloquent on the ballads, getting most of the solo space on “Everything Happens to Me” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” But Varro has pithy half-choruses on both tracks, and transports us to London in his intro to “Berkeley Square” with an apt quote from the verse of “A Foggy Day.” We get swinging samplings of Myers’ soprano on “As Long as I Live,” “Someday Sweetheart” and “Oh, Baby,” all of them gleefully resurrecting Zoot’s distinctive “blue goose” sound. “Blue Prelude” is an explicit nod to Sims on tenor, but Metz drives it with a Latin beat. Of the 12 tracks, the closing title tune showcases the entire quartet most effectively, but “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” done in 3/4 time with boogie-woogie and “Jitterbug Waltz” flavorings from Varro, may be the best of the bunch.

Originally Published