Jesper Thilo

Tribute to Frog

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This studio date by Danish tenor saxophonist Jesper Thilo and the extraordinary trumpeter and fl├╝gelhornist Clark Terry is a real treat. The 1980 session is a tribute to tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, who had died just a few years earlier. Thilo's warm tenor isn't as big-toned or heavy on the vibrato as Webster's, but his aim is to honor, not copy, him. The first six tracks were all a part of Webster's repertoire, including the swinging "Sunday" and a warm "Body and Soul" that picks up quite a bit in tempo as Terry begins his muted trumpet solo. Webster's "Did You Call Her Today?" is a thinly disguised reworking of Duke Ellington's "In a Mellotone," with pianist Kenny Drew providing some nice backing for the alternating solos by Thilo and Terry, followed by some tasty unaccompanied interplay by the two men. But Terry definitely steals the show with his consistently exciting playing, as well as his own original tribute to Webster, the bluesy "Frog Eyes," which features some soulful hand muting of his trumpet. A rather up-tempo version of Terry's hilarious "Mumbles" finds him sharing the nonsense vocals alternating with Richard Boone, who falls well short of Terry as an entertaining scat singer. Because three tracks from this LP were deleted when it was combined with a separate album by the Jesper Thilo Quartet for a Storyville CD reissue, the original record will be preferred by fans of Clark Terry and the still underappreciated Jesper Thilo.

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