Clark Terry: In Orbit
Clark Terry (fluegelhorn)
In Orbit (Original Jazz Classics, OJC 302)
Composed by Clark Terry.
Recorded: New York City, May 7 & 12, 1958
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Terry's unfairly neglected In Orbit album is notable not only for his warmly expressive fluegelhorn and clever originals, but for the fact that Thelonious Monk accepted the leader's invitation to play piano on the session. Monk enjoyed Terry's playing—Terry had appeared on the "Bemsha Swing" track from the pianist's Brilliant Corners recording date in 1956. Orrin Keepnews called the In Orbit session "the most relaxed, happiest and funkiest Monk performances I ever witnessed." In addition, this may have been the first time that the fluegelhorn was featured as the lead instrument throughout a jazz album, plus it was the only time Monk and Philly Joe Jones recorded together.
The title selection is a brisk circular theme that is enlivened by Terry's rich sound, Monk's zealous chords, and Philly Joe's tightly-wound percussive stimulus. Terry's boppish solo is captivating, as is Monk's spaced out improv, with its spiky single-note phrases and riffs. The exchanges between Terry and Philly Joe present the drummer at the peak of his consummate powers. Sam Jones follows with a skillfully executed walking bass solo, with Monk feeding him an assortment of angular note clusters at the start to help propel him on his way. As Terry repeats the head, you may realize—if you haven't already—that he sounds an awful lot like trumpeter Clifford Brown, and that Brownie's distinctively glowing sound itself could be said to have resided somewhere between that of a trumpet and a fluegelhorn.
Reviewer: Scott Albin