Clark Terry

Clark Terry

Clark Terry in New York City, 1976
Background information
Born December 14, 1920 (1920-12-14) (age 90)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Swing, bop, jazz
Occupations Musician
Instruments Trumpet, fluegelhorn
Years active 1940s–present

Clark Terry (born December 14, 1920)[1] is an American swing and bop trumpeter, a pioneer of the fluegelhorn in jazz, educator, NEA Jazz Masters inductee, and recipient of the 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Only three other trumpet players in history have ever received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award: Louis Armstrong (Clark's old mentor), Miles Davis (who Clark mentored), and Dizzy Gillespie (who often described Clark as the greatest jazz trumpet player on earth). Clark Terry is one of the most prolific jazz musicians in history, having appeared on 905 known recording sessions, which makes him the most recorded trumpet player of all time. In comparison, Louis Armstrong performed on 620 sessions, Harry "Sweets" Edison on 563, and Dizzy Gillespie on 501.

Clark played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948 to 1951),[1] Duke Ellington (1951 to 1959),[1] and Quincy Jones (1960). He has also performed and recorded regularly both as a leader and sideman. In all, his career in jazz spans more than sixty years.



Terry was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Vashon High School and began his professional career in the early 1940s playing, in local clubs. He served as a bandsman in the United States Navy during World War II.

Terry's years with Basie and Ellington in the late 1940s and 1950s established him as a world-class jazz artist. Blending the St. Louis tone with contemporary styles, Terry’s sound influenced a generation. During this period, he took part in many of Ellington's suites and acquired a reputation for his wide range of styles (from swing to hard bop), technical proficiency, and good humor. Terry exerted a positive influence on musicians like Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, both of who acknowledge Clark's influence during the early stages of their careers. Terry had informally taught Davis while they were still in St Louis.

After leaving Ellington, Clark's international recognition soared when he accepted an offer from the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) to become its first African-American staff musician. He appeared for ten years on The Tonight Show as a member of the Tonight Show Band, first led by Skitch Henderson and later by Doc Severinsen, where his unique "mumbling" scat singing became famous when he scored a hit with "Mumbles."

Terry continued to play with musicians such as J. J. Johnson and Oscar Peterson,[2] and led a group with Bob Brookmeyer that achieved popularity in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, Terry concentrated increasingly on the flugelhorn, which he plays with a full, ringing tone. In addition to his studio work and teaching at jazz workshops, Terry toured regularly in the 1980s with small groups (including Peterson's) and performed as the leader of his Big B-A-D Band (formed about 1970). After financial difficulties forced him to break up the Big B-A-D Band, he performed bands such as the Unifour Jazz Ensemble. His humor and command of jazz trumpet styles are apparent in his "dialogues" with himself, on different instruments or on the same instrument, muted and unmuted. He has occasionally performed solos on a trumpet or flugelhorn mouthpiece.

From the 1970s through the 1990s, Clark performed at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and Lincoln Center, toured with the Newport Jazz All Stars and Jazz at the Philharmonic, and he was featured with Skitch Henderson's New York Pops Orchestra. In 1998, Terry recorded George Gershwin's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Rhapsody, a tribute to George Gershwin, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In 2001, he again recorded for the Red Hot Organization with artist Amel Larrieux for the compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington

Prompted early in his career by Dr. Billy Taylor, Clark and Milt Hinton bought instruments for and gave instruction to young hopefuls which planted the seed that became Jazz Mobile in Harlem. This venture tugged at Clark's greatest love - involving youth in the perpetuation of Jazz. Between global performances, Clark continues to share wholeheartedly his jazz expertise and encourage students, including up-and-coming young jazz trumpeter, Josh Shpak. Since 2000, Clark has hosted Clark Terry Jazz Festivals on land and sea, held his own jazz camps, and appeared in more than fifty jazz festivals on six continents.

His career as both leader and sideman with more than three hundred recordings demonstrates that he is one of the most prolific luminaries in jazz. Clark composed more than two hundred jazz songs and performed for seven U.S. Presidents.

He also has several recordings with major groups including The London Symphony Orchestra, The Dutch Metropole Orchestra, The Duke Ellington Orchestra and The Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Hundreds of high school and college ensembles, his own duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, octets, and two big bands; Clark Terry's Big Bad Band and Clark Terry's Young Titans of Jazz with the likes of Branford Marsalis, Conrad Herwig and Tony Lujan. The Clark Terry Archive at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, contains instruments, tour posters, awards, original copies of over 70 big band arrangements, recordings and other memorabilia.

Terry was a long-time resident of Bayside, Queens and Corona, Queens, New York.[3] He and his wife, Gwen, later moved to Haworth, New Jersey.[4] They currently reside in Pine Bluff, AR.[5]

Awards and honors


Clark Terry performs with the Great Lakes Navy Band Jazz Ensemble

As leader

  • Clark Terry with Quentin Jackson/Martial Solal/Kenny Clarke (Disques Swing, 1955)
  • Introducing Clark Terry (EmArcy, 1955)
  • Serenade to a Bus Seat (Riverside/OJC, 1957)
  • Duke with a Difference (Riverside/OJC, 1957)
  • In Orbit (with Thelonious Monk, Riverside/OJC, 1958)
  • Out on a Limb with Clark Terry (Argo, 1958)
  • Top and Bottom Brass feat. Don Butterfield (Riverside/OJC, 1959)
  • Paris (Swing, 1960)
  • Color Changes (Candid, 1960)
  • Everything's Mellow (Prestige, 1961)
  • Mellow Moods (Prestige, 1961)
  • All American (Prestige, 1962)
  • Plays the Jazz Version of "All American" (Moodsville, 1962)
  • The Night Life (Mood, 1962)
  • Clark Terry & Bob Brookmeyer (Verve, 1962)
  • More (Cameo, 1963)
  • Tread Ye Lightly (Cameo, 1963)
  • What Makes Sammy Swing (20th Century, 1963)
  • The Happy Horns of Clark Terry (Impulse!, 1964)
  • The Power of Positive Swinging (Mainstream, 1964)
  • Live 1964 (Emerald, 1964)
  • Quintet (Mainstream, 1964)
  • Tonight (Mainstream, 1964)
  • Clark Terry Tonight (Mainstream, 1964)
  • Oscar Peterson Trio Plus One Clark Terry (Mercury, 1964)
  • Spanish Rice (Impulse!, 1966)
  • Gingerbread Men (Mainstream, 1966)
  • Mumbles (Mainstream, 1966)
  • Angyumaluma Bongliddleany Nannyany Awhan Yi! (Mainstream, 1966)
  • It's What's Happening - The Varitone Sound of CT' (Impulse!, 1967)
  • Music in the Garden (Jazz Heritage, 1968)
  • At the Montreux Jazz Festival (Polydor, 1969)
  • Live on 57th Street (Big Bear, 1969)
  • Big B-A-D Band In Concert, Live 1970... (EToile, 1970)
  • Live at the Wichita Jazz Festival (Vanguard, 1974)
  • Clark Terry and His Jolly Giants (Vanguard, 1975)
  • Live at the Wichita Jazz Festival (Vanguard, 1975)
  • Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry (Pablo, 1975)
  • Clark Terry's Big B-A-D Band Live at Buddy's... (Vanguard, 1976)
  • Live at the Jazz House (Pausa, 1976)
  • Wham (BASF, 1976)
  • Squeeze Me (Chiaroscuro, 1976)
  • The Globetrotter (Vanguard, 1977)
  • Out of Nowhere (Bingow, 1978)
  • Brahms Lullabye (Amplitude, 1978)
  • Funk Dumplin's (Matrix, 1978)
  • Clark After Dark (MPS, 1978)
  • Mother______! Mother______! (Pablo, 1979)
  • Ain't Misbehavin' (Pablo, 1979)
  • Live in Chicago, Vol. 1 (Monad, 1979)
  • Live in Chicago, Vol. 2 (Monad, 1979)
  • The Trumpet Summit Meets the Oscar Peterson Big 4 (1980)
  • Memories of Duke (Pablo/OJC, 1980)
  • Yes, the Blues (Pablo/OJC, 1981)
  • Jazz at the Philharmonic - Yoyogi National Stadium, Tokyo 1983: Return to Happiness (1983)
  • To Duke and Basie (Rhino, 1986)
  • Jive at Five (Enja, 1986)
  • Metropole Orchestra (Mons, 1988)
  • Portraits (Chesky, 1988) - with Don Friedman (p), Victor Gaskin (b) Lewis Nash (d)
  • The Clark Terry Spacemen (Chiaroscuro, 1989)
  • Locksmith Blues (Concord Jazz, 1989)
  • Having Fun (Delos, 1990)
  • Live at the Village Gate (Chesky, 1990)
  • Live at the Village Gate: Second Set (Chesky, 1990)
  • What a Wonderful World: For Lou (Red Baron, 1993)
  • Shades of Blues (Challenge, 1994)
  • Remember the Time (Mons, 1994)
  • With Pee Wee Claybrook & Swing Fever (D' Note, 1995)
  • Top and Bottom Brass'[' (Chiaroscuro, 1995)
  • Reunion (D'Note, 1995)
  • Express (Reference, 1995)
  • Good Things in Life (Mons, 1996)
  • Ow (E.J.s) 1996)
  • The Alternate Blues (Analogue, 1996)
  • Ritter der Ronneburg, 1998 (Mons, 1998)
  • One on One (Chesky, 2000)
  • A Jazz Symphony (Centaur, 2000)
  • Herr Ober: Live at Birdland Neuburg (Nagel-Heyer, 2001)
  • Live on QE2 (Chiaroscuro, 2001)
  • Jazz Matinee (Hanssler, 2001)
  • The Hymn (Candid, 2001)
  • Clark Terry and His Orchestra Featuring Paul Gonsalves [1959] (Storyville, 2002)
  • Live in Concert (Image, 2002)
  • Flutin' and Fluglin (Past Perfect, 2002)
  • Friendship (Columbia, 2002)
  • Live! At Buddy's Place (Universe, 2003)
  • Live at Montmarte June 1975 (Storyville, 2003)
  • George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess (A440 Music Group, 2004)
  • Live at Marian's with the Terry's Young Titan's of Jazz (Chiaroscuro, 2005)

As sideman

Terry performed at the White House with singer Nnenna Freelon in 2006

With Tadd Dameron

  • The Magic Touch (1962)

With Duke Ellington

With Dave Grusin

  • Homage to Duke (1993)

With Lionel Hampton

  • You Better Know It!!! (Impulse!, 1965)

With Chico Hamilton

  • The Further Adventures of El Chico (Impulse!, 1966)

With Gary McFarland

With Blue Mitchell

  • Smooth as the Wind (1961)
  • A Sure Thing (1962)

With Oliver Nelson

With Chico O'Farrill

With Sonny Rollins

  • Brass & Trio (1958)

With Cecil Taylor


  • Let's Talk Trumpet: From Legit to Jazz
  • Interpretation of the Jazz Language
  • Clark Terry's System of Circular Breathing for Woodwind and Brass Instruments
  • TerryTunes, anthology of 60 original compositions (1st ed., 1972; 2nd ed. w/doodle-tonguing chapter, 2009)
  • Ellington, Duke. “Clark Terry,” chapter in Music is My Mistress (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973): 229-230.
  • “Clark Terry – Jazz Ambassador: C.T.’s Diary” [cover portrait] Jazz Journal International 31 (May 6, 1978): 7-8.
  • Beach, Doug. “Clark Terry and the St. Louis Trumpet Sound,” Instrumentalist 45 (April 1991): 8-12.
  • Bernotas, Bob. “Clark Terry,” Jazz Player 1 (October–November 1994): 12-19.
  • LaBarbera, John. “Clark Terry: More Than ‘Mumbles’,” ITG Journal [International Trumpet Guild] 19, No. 2 (1994): 36-41.
  • Blumenthal, Bob. “Reflections on a Brilliant Career” [reprint of Jazz Times 25, No. 8], Jazz Educators Journal 29, No. 4 (1997): 30-33, 36-37.
  • Morgenstern, Dan. “Clark Terry” in Living With Jazz: A Reader (New York: Pantheon, 2004): 196-201. [Reprint of Down Beat 34 (June 1, 1967): 16-18.
  • Owens, Thomas. “Trumpeters: Clark Terry” in Bebop: The Music and the Players (New York: Oxford, 1995): 111-113.
  • “Jazz for the Record”[Clark Terry Archive at William Paterson University], New York Times (December 11, 2004).
  • Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry” (University of California Press: 2011), Review of book


  1. ^ a b c Yanow, Scott Clark Terry biography at allmusic
  2. ^ Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry at Allmusic
  3. ^ Berman, Eleanor. "The jazz of Queens encompasses music royalty", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 1, 2006. Accessed October 1, 2009. "When the trolley tour proceeds, Mr. Knight points out the nearby Dorie Miller Houses, a co-op apartment complex in Corona where Clark Terry and Cannonball and Nat Adderley lived and where saxophonist Jimmy Heath still resides."
  4. ^ Potter, Beth. "Haworth's Notable Characters", Haworth, New Jersey. Accessed June 22, 2010.
  5. ^ Potter, Beth. Accessed Sept 28, 2010.
  6. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame

External links

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