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This Day in Music – Dec 14, 1920 – Happy Birthday, Clark Terry!

Clark TerryToday we celebrate the birthday of another jazz icon, Clark Terry, who born on December 14th in 1920!! Terry’s career has span almost 70 years! Wow! From Wikipedia:

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. Read More

and from AllMusic Guide:

Possessor of the happiest sound in jazz, flügelhornist Clark Terry always plays music that is exuberant, swinging, and fun. A brilliant (and very distinctive) soloist, C.T. gained fame for his “Mumbles” vocals (which started as a satire of the less intelligible ancient blues singers) and is also an enthusiastic educator. Read more

Terry started his career playing trumpet in and around his hometown of St. Louis in the early 1940’s (quick subtraction 70+ years ago) During the period he inspired artist such as Miles Davis and Quincey Jones. After his stint in the Navy, his reputation grew as he played with a variety of big bands including: Charlie Barnett in 1947 and 1948, Count Basie from 1948 to 1951 and then with Duke Ellington for eight years from 1951 to 1958.

While he was with Ellington, Clark started specializing on flugelhorn. During that period, he also started his career as a solo artist by having his own recording dates. Apart from the playing with Ellington’s band, he visited Europe with Harold Arlen’s unsuccessful The Free & Easy show in 1959, was part of Quincy Jones Orchestra, and joined The Tonight Show Orchestra!!

Terry has recorded over 90 albums as a leader in the years from 1955 and the release of his début album  Clark Terry (also released as Introducing  Clark Terry and Swahili) to 2005 a the release of  Live at Marian’s with the Terry’s Young Titans of Jazz doing the math again that’s a career of 50 years – 90 albums almost 2 albums per year!!

Here a few of the over 250 awards that have been given to Clark Terry!

  • Inducted into the Jazz at Lincoln Center Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame (2013)[6]
  • The 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, two Grammy certificates, three Grammy nominations
  • The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award in 1991
  • Sixteen honorary doctorates
  • Keys to several cities
  • Jazz Ambassador for U.S. State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa
  • A knighthood in Germany[citation needed]
  • Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award, presented by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity in 1985. Terry was awarded honorary membership in the Fraternity by the Beta Zeta Chapter at the College of Emporia in 1968. He was also made an honorary member of the Iota Phi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Fraternity in 2011.
  • The French Order of Arts and Letters (2000)
  • A life-sized wax figure for the Black World History Museum in St. Louis
  • Inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame (1996)[7]
  • NARAS Present’s Merit Award (2005)
  • Trumpeter of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association (2005)

So Happy Birthday, Mister Terry – you have had a remarkable career and the world of Jazz music, no the world of MUSIC, says Thanks!!

Here’s a video of Clark Terry Sextet live in Montreux Jazz Festival, back in 1977.  On the video, Terry (fl, tp) is joined by an all-star band including:

Oscar Peterson (p)
Ronnie Scott (ts)
Niels Pedersen (b)
Joe Pass (g)
Bobby Durham (dr)
Milt Jackson (vb)

with that line-up I couldn’t pass it up!!