Thinkofone's Blog

One person's thoughts may change the world

Clark Terry


Clark Terry, the great trumpeter, master of the flugelhorn, jazz musician, swing bop pioneer, composer, educator,  past on February 21, 2015. From an historical perspective, he died during Black History month. So, in essence, a person who contributed to the history of jazz is now part of the historical landscape of it.  He was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1920, and one of the most recorded jazz musicians in history.

Clark mentored, Miles Davis, Herby Hancock, Quincy Jones, Diane Reeves, Wynton Marsalis and other. In other words, he shaped the landscape of those who have also contributed and shaped the history of jazz. Clark was a rare breed, born in a generation that changed the musical landscape of America, there will never be another like him.

I cannot even pontificate enough here the gravity of his moving on to the next life. If you did not listen to his music, then it is your responsibility to learn about him. It will make you a better person. It will change the scope of your understanding of jazz music. And he did it in a climate that most entitled people would not have been able to flourish in.

Here is a person who started out in the Navy band during WWII, informally tutored Miles Davis in St. Louis, played in the big band era of Charles Barnet, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, and Oscar Peterson. He played in the tonight show band for 10 years.

The sheer weight of the era he came up in, flourished in it, took advantage of it, will never be matched. Dizzy may have played higher, but, Clark played smoother. Davis may have played on the bleeding edge, but Clark maintained the tradition. Lee Morgan may have played with youthfull spontaneity, but Clark played with maturity. Clark could lead, or follow, it didn’t matter, he just loved to play.

And isn’t what that is all about, just having the opportunity to play? But better yet, he took advantage of his opportunity, regardless of the role he played on the recordings he was associated with.

Clark Terry, a true leader on the trumpet, Flugelhorn, band member, band leader, composer… and heavy weight champion on the trumpet…


One comment on “Clark Terry

  1. jazztraveler
    March 3, 2015

    Very nice post, thanks for sharing! Terry’s death is indeed a monumental loss to Jazz. But then his legacy is very powerful and lives on!

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2015 by in Music and tagged , .
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