Clark Terry: Cotton Tail
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Duke With A Difference (Riverside/OJC OJCCD-229-2)
Britt Woodman (trombone), Jimmy Woode (bass), Sam Woodyard (drums).
Composed by Duke Ellington.
Recorded: New York, September 6, 1957
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
As first recorded by Duke Ellington's 15-piece band in 1940, "Cotton Tail" tore through the cabbage patch quicker than rabbits repopulate. Seventeen years later and 9 musicians fewer, the bunny still hops—albeit at a more relaxed tempo. (Hell, we all slow down with age.)
Whereas Ellington's first litter cut straight to the chase, this sextet culled from Duke's mid-'50s band takes a moment for a short intro before stating the theme. After playing vibes on the bridge, Tyree Glenn shows his versatility by switching to cup-muted trombone for a mellifluous leadoff solo. Following a Woodyard drum break, tenorman Gonsalves assumes center stage, backed by Woodyard's trademark insistent rim shots on beats 2 and 4. Tyree Glenn, meanwhile, has returned to his Lionel Hampton-style vibes to comp behind the soloists. Clark Terry takes over next, coming on like a cat who's been drummed out of March King John Philip Sousa's band for playing too hip. Britt Woodman then provides a follow-up trombone solo using, unlike his predecessor Glenn, an open horn.
This "Cotton Tail" won't make anyone forget Duke's original, but it's still enjoyable, especially for Tyree Glenn's goof at the end. Whereas Duke's chart terminated in an unexpected low note played in unison by bass and baritone sax, this arrangement apparently meant to omit that last harrumph. Vibist Glenn, not quite on the same page as everybody else, nevertheless strikes one final, conspicuously solitary chord. In his solitude, the embarrassed Mr. Glenn offers a sheepish "Oh!" that reminds us what joys lurk in unrehearsed jazz.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz