CLARK TERRY QUINTET WITH HARRY “SWEETS” EDISON
One band, two trumpeters, and more than 100 years of experience. Now 78 and 83 respectively, Clark Terry and Harry “Sweets” Edison are the last great horn players of the generation that got the good word directly from Louis Armstrong; growing up both men could listen to Armstrong’s recordings hot off the presses. Terry’s visibility peaked in the 60s, when he was the genial cutup of the Tonight Show band, but he’d already earned his stripes as a mainstay of Duke Ellington’s orchestra, where his laughing tone and springy, modernist solos made him a favorite with younger artists (Miles Davis credited Terry as an early model). He’s become a New Year’s staple in Chicago, and despite health problems he still plies a trademark technique: with a muted trumpet in one hand and an open horn in the other, he trades riffs with himself. The presence of yet another trumpet onstage might seem redundant, but Sweets Edison’s playing would stand out in a roomful of horns. He first distinguished himself in Count Basie’s band in the late 30s and 40s, earning his nickname with a sound like nectar and a seductive simplicity. Then he burnished his credentials with the gracious, whimsical statements he contributed to the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts of the 50s. For more examples of his invention, check Sinatra’s classic albums of the same period–that’s him playing the pretty, muted fills throughout Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!–or one of the records he cut during his long partnership with the exhilarating tenor saxist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. I won’t pretend that he sounds as good as ever on his latest album, Live at the Iridium (Telarc); though he can still deliver his improvisations with a sly wink, his tone’s a little frayed. But even today Edison generates enough electricity to brighten a band and warm a room. Tuesday and Wednesday, December 29 and 30, 8 and 10 PM, Thursday through Saturday, December 31 through January 2, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, January 3, 4 and 8 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photos.