Get Well wishes to Clark Terry
I sent get well wishes to Clark Terry this morning, and thanked him for the trumpet playing he's delighted music lovers with since the 1940's . I had the pleasure of sitting with Clark at the Newport Jazz Festival a few years ago and still feel elevated by the experience. As Jimmy Heath says of Clark, "His friends and admirers cover the whole planet." The 90-year-old St. Louis native was hospitalized in New York this week.
Following his service as a U.S. Navy bandsman in World War II, Clark joined Charlie Barnet's big band in 1947, then spent three years with Count Basie's orchestra and octet before joining Duke Ellington in 1952. During his eight years with Duke, the Ellington-Juan Tizol standard "Perdido" became Terry's signature feature in concerts; the Ellington recording All-Star Road Band, Vol. II, offers a stellar example of how Clark was able to incorporate his bebop-oriented, double-time phrasing within the setting of an Ellington arrangement and still maintain what Stanley Dance called his "agreeable tone." Clark is also renowned for his jesting wit, a quality that made him the obvious choice for the role of Puck on Ellington's Shakespearean-inspired suite, "Such Sweet Thunder."
Terry has the added distinction of being the last musican for whom Thelonious Monk ever recorded as a sideman; that was Clark's 1958 Riverside Session In Orbit. Two years earlier, he played on Monk's landmark recording, Brilliant Corners. Clark was also the first African American to become a staff musician at NBC television, and he spent a decade with the Tonight Show Orchestra under both Skitch Henderson and Doc Severinson's direction.
During his Tonight Show tenure, Terry developed a hilarious, quasi-scat singing technique which began as a parody of an unintelligble blues singer whom he called The Mumbles Man. The University of California Press has now published The Autobiography of Clark Terry, and it arrived today, just in time for me to pull out this quote about "Mumbles." Clark writes, "Sometimes I'd do it to cool out some crackpot in the audience who was being disruptive. I'd point at him during the song and involve the audience in squashing his antics." Here's an example
And here's a link to the Clark Terry discography: Warning: before you hit Print, note that it's 178 pages long! http://press.clarkterry.com/CT_Discography.pdf
We'll hear a few by Clark in tonight's Jazz à la Mode.