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Clark Terry

Clark Terry (born December 14, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri), nicknamed Mumbles, is an American swing and bop trumpeter, a pioneer of the fluegelhorn in jazz, educator, and NEA Jazz Master.clark terry


Clark Terry attended Vashon High School, and began his professional career in St. Louis in the early 1940s by playing in local clubs before joining a Navy band during World War II. Afterwards, he played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948-1951), Duke Ellington (1951 to 1959), and Quincy Jones (1960). He also performed and recorded regularly both as a leader and sideman. In all, his career in jazz spans more than sixty years.

His years with Count Basie and Duke Ellington in the late 1940s and 1950s established him as a world-class jazz artist. Blending the St. Louis tone of his youth with contemporary styles, Terry’s sound influenced a generation. During this period, Terry took part in many of Ellington's suites and acquired a lasting reputation for his wide range of styles (from swing to hard bop), technical proficiency, and infectious good humor. In addition to his outstanding musical contribution to these bands, Terry exerted a positive influence on musicians such as Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, both of whom credit Clark as a formidable influence during the early stages of their careers.

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 regularly for ten years on the Tonight Show sitting in with the Tonight Show Band led by Doc Severinsen, where his unique "mumbling" scat singing became famous when he scored a hit as a singer with "Mumbles."clark terry

He also continued to play jazz with musicians such as J. J. Johnson and Oscar Peterson, and led a group with Bob Brookmeyer that achieved some popularity in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, Terry began to concentrate increasingly on the flugelhorn, from which he obtains 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 c 1970). After financial difficulties forced him to break up BBB, he performed with big bands like the Unifour Jazz Ensemble and others. His humor and command of jazz trumpet styles are apparent in his "dialogues" with himself, either on different instruments or on the same instrument, muted and unmuted.

From the 70's through the 90's, 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.

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. Since 2000, he has hosted Clark Terry Jazz Festivals on land and sea, held his own jazz camps, and appeared in more than fifty jazz festivals on all seven continents.

Recently, health concerns have caused Terry to retire from regular performing, although he made a brief guest appearance at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C. on September 16, 2007.

Significant Jazz Contributions

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.clark terry

Clark's discography reads like a "Who's Who In Jazz," with personnel that includes great jazz artists such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Charlie Barnet, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Eddie Vinson, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Wes Montgomery, Milt Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, Jon Faddis, Cecil Taylor and Dianne Reeves.

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.

What Other People Say

"Clark Terry," writes Chuck Berg, "is one of contemporary music's great innovators, and justly celebrated for his great technical virtuosity, swinging lyricism, and impeccable good taste. Combining these with the gifts of a great dramatist, Clark is a master storyteller whose spellbinding musical 'tales' leave audiences thrilled and always awaiting more.

Awards and Recognition

Terry has received several awards and recognition in his career, most notably:

* He was inducted into the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991.
* He received a Grammy Award, two Grammy certificates, three Grammy nominations
* Received sixteen honorary doctorates
* Awarded keys to several cities
* Terry was a Jazz Ambassador for U.S. State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa.
* He was knighted in Germany
* Terry is a recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters.
* Sat for a life-sized wax figure for the Black World History Museum in St. Louis.
* In 1996, Terry was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
* In 2005 he was voted Trumpeter of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.


* 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


Clark Terry's recordings as a leader.

* Clark Terry (Polygram, 1954)
* Clark Terry with Quentin Jackson/Martial Solal/Kenny Clarke (Disques Swing, 1955)
* Introducing Clark Terry (EmArcy, 1955)
* Swahili (EmArcy, 1955)
* Serenade to a Bus Seat (Riverside/OJC, 1957)
* Duke with a Difference (Riverside/OJC, 1957)
* Clark Terry Quartet with Thelonious Monk (Jazzland, 1958)
* In Orbit (Riverside/OJC, 1958)
* Out on a Limb with Clark Terry (Argo, 1958)
* Top and Bottom Brass (Riverside/OJC, 1959)
* Paris (1960) (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 (GRP/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 with 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 Happenin' (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)
* Clark Terry's Big B-A-D Band Live at Buddy's... (Vanguard, 1976)
* 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)
* Memories of Duke (Pablo/OJC, 1980)
* Yes, the Blues (Pablo/OJC, 1981)
* To Duke and Basie (Rhino, 1986)
* Jive at Five (Enja, 1986)
* Metropole Orchestra (Mons, 1988)
* Portraits (Chesky, 1988)
* 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., 1996)
* Alternate Blues (Analogue, 1996)
* Daylight Express (GRP, 1998)
* Ritter der Ronneburg, 1998 (Mons, 1998)
* Living Worship Let's Worship (Newport, 1999)
* 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... (Storyville, 2002)
* Live in Concert (Image, 2002)
* Flutin' and Fluglin (Past Perfect, 2002)
* Friendship (Columbia, 2002)
* Live! At Buddy's Place (Universe, 2003)
* Clark Terry (Emarcy, 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)

Clark Terry has recently made a guest appearance at the Wayne Jazz Festival, performing with many middle school Jazz Ensembles and William Patterson University's Jazz Ensemble.

Clark Terry was born in St. Louis, Missouri on December 14th, 1920. A classic freelance musician who is a welcome and distinctive addition to whatever band or jam session is fortunate enough to be graced by his presence. His earliest band experience was on the bugle with the Tom Powell Drum and Bugle Corps. In high school he took up the valve trombone. Prior to entering the service he played riverboat jobs in St. Louis. After induction he was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station from 1942-1945 where he developed his remarkable technique practicing from a clarinet book. Upon his discharge he found work with Lionel Hampton’s band and rounded out the 40s playing with bands led by Charlie Barnet, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Charlie Ventura, and George Hudson. Clark worked with Count Basie's big band and small groups from 1948 thru 1951.
His breakthrough job was with Duke Ellington, with whom he worked from 1951-1959. During this period Terry took part in many of Ellington's suites and acquired a lasting reputation for his wide range of styles (from swing to hard bop), technical proficiency, and infectious good humor. After working with Quincy Jones in ‘59, he found steady work as a freelance studio artist in New York City, becoming the first black musician on the NBC payroll.

For a dozen years he was featured in the Doc Severinsen band, which played on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show. During this time, Clark worked and recorded with artists like J.J. Johnson, Oscar Peterson, and Ella Fitzgerald, then co-led a quintet with Bob Brookmeyer that achieved some popularity in the early 1960s. When the Tonight Show moved west to Los Angeles, Clark made the decision to remain in New York to pursue a busy schedule as a studio musician and as a jazz star in demand not only in the States, but throughout the world. He also became part of Norman Granz’ traveling all-stars Jazz at the Philharmonic, and began playing flugelhorn, eventually making this his principal instrument.
The 70s and 80s found him touring extensively, playing concerts, clubs and festivals around the world, usually as leader but ably blending in with almost any background from late swing style to post-bop. Terry's remarkable technical accomplishment has never overwhelmed the depth of emotion that imbues his playing, and neither of these characteristics has ever dampened his infectious humor. This quality is most readily apparent on his singing of "Mumbles", for which he created a unique variation on scat. His duets with himself, during which he plays flugelhorn and trumpet, are remarkable displays of his astonishing skills yet never degenerate into mere bravura exercises. Terry remained a major figure in the history of jazz trumpet into the beginning of the new century, after a lifetime as one of the music's most respected and widely admired ambassadors.