Clark Terry
Clark Terry

Clark Terry

About Clark Terry

No one could ever accuse Clark Terry of solemnity or detachment; his penchant for humor, especially his scat singing and "mumbles" routine, often triggered accusations of silliness. But Terry was an excellent modern trumpeter who perfected -- among many other things -- "dialogues" with himself, sometimes playing different instruments and other times alternating between mute and unmuted passages. His tone, range, and solo technique were superb, and he was equally proficient at swing or bebop. Terry worked in local groups around the St. Louis area, then was in a Navy band during World War II with Willie Smith. Upon his discharge, he played with Charlie Barnet in 1947 and Count Basie's small and large groups during the late '40s and early '50s. Terry played with Duke Ellington into the late '50s, appearing on several suites and extended pieces. He worked with Quincy Jones, then was recommended by Ray Copeland for a staff position at NBC after Copeland had to turn it down. Terry worked at NBC through the '60s and early '70s. He appeared regularly on The Tonight Show, while doing jazz dates with J.J. Johnson and Oscar Peterson and co-leading a group with Bob Brookmeyer that became popular in the early '60s. There were sessions on Mainstream, Vanguard, Big Bear, Mercury, Impulse!, and Riverside in the '50s and '60s. Terry began playing flügelhorn in the '50s while in the Ellington orchestra. He included more flügelhorn solos in his repertoire during the '70s, and recorded often for Pablo as well as MPS/BASF and Pausa. He maintained his activity in the '80s, '90s, and into the 2000s. Some of Terry's best recorded work can be heard on the Ellington album Cosmic Scene, while classic Terry dates from the '50s and '60s, as well as '70s and '80s cuts, are available in the digital age. Clark Terry died on February 21, 2015, at age 94, after an extended battle with diabetes.

    St. Louis, MO
  • BORN
    December 14, 1920