Clark Terry

Mellow-Moods

Mellow Moods

  • Release Date: 28 Feb 1994
  • PRCD-24136-2

Who is the only musician in history to have played with a Count (Basie), a Duke (Ellington), a Doc (Severinsen, in the Tonight Show band), a Monk (Thelonious, of course), and a Pres (Clinton, a part-time tenor man, at the 1993 White House Jazz Party)? Nobody else but Clark Terry (b. 1920), whose warm and witty stylings on trumpet and flugelhorn have long been among jazz's foremost pleasures. This set, combining two distinctly different albums made less than a year apart in 1961 and '62, finds… MORE

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Clark Terry's series of late-Fifties Riverside albums covered a very wide range (on one he shared honors with a tuba player; another featured… More

ABOUT CLARK TERRY

Clark Terry

 

Clark Terry is one of the great contemporary individualists in jazz. As a trumpet—and flugelhorn—player, he is instantly recognizable, something that can be said of relatively few musicians in the whole history of the music. His phenomenal virtuosity is dazzling, yet it is always governed by impeccable taste. In his case, ease of execution does not result in empty exhibitionism, but in great music. Like the famous pianist, Art Tatum, he is a musician in a class by himself, or, to use a favorite phrase of Duke Ellington, “beyond category.”
The seventh child and youngest boy in a large St. Louis family, Clark began his musical career on a coiled—up length of water hose, but he was fascinated at an early age by the trumpet and he realized his ambition to play that instrument when he joined his high school band. St. Louis was a city famed for its jazz trumpet players and they exercised a beneficial influence on the young musician, but for a time another art rivaled music in his affections.

Clark had shown considerable promise as a boxer and he had been taught by the well-known Kid Carter, but, luckily for today’s listener, pugilism was not to claim him. “I received a busted lip one night,” he recalls, “when I wanted to impress a girl at a dance on trumpet. It was then that I decided trumpet and boxing don’t go together.”

During the years that followed, as his ability developed in local bands, there was one encounter he never has forgotten. A youngster came up at a dance and began asking questions about playing the horn. Preoccupied with other matters, Clark did not pay him much attention, but the kid was not discouraged and went on to make a distinguished career for himself on the same instrument. It was Miles Davis, and though he and Clark have often laughed about the incident, Miles always credits Clark with being a source of inspiration.

In 1942, Clark volunteered for the Navy and went into its excellent band at Great Lakes. He practiced very diligently, often using an old exercise book for clarinet! Strange as that may seem, it should also be mentioned that he acknowledges tenor saxophonist Lester Young as amongst his major influences.

Back in civilian life, he joined George Hudson’s band and it was while he was with this group that he received the personal commendation of Louis Armstrong. His next steps on the stairway to fame were with the Charlie Barnet, Charlie Ventura, and Eddie Vinson bands, but it was after joining Count Basie in 1948 that his name first became widely known. During this period, too, he was able to help and encourage another young trumpet player—Quincy Jones. Like Miles Davis, Quincy has never forgotten what Clark meant to him in the formative stages of his career.

In November 1951, Clark became a member of Duke Ellington’s orchestra, in which he was to be a featured soloist for eight years. “Everything previous was like elementary school,” Clark claims. “The time with Ellington was like college.” With this band, on tour and on record, he became internationally famous.

Late in 1959, he went to Europe with Quincy Jones to play and act in the Harold Arlen show, Free and Easy. The musicians had an important onstage part in the production and Clark had the biggest acting role of any. “I enjoyed it so much,” he says, “that I looked forward to going to work every night.”

A year later, he joined the NBC staff, a testimony in itself to his remarkable musicianship. As a featured member of Skitch Henderson’s orchestra, he is often seen on TV on the Tonight show.

In New York, the world recording center, Clark is one of the musicians most in demand. Besides the many albums made under his own name, he records frequently with all kinds of artists and with bands of all sizes. In public, he appears with concert groups at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, with the quintet he and Bob Brookmeyer jointly lead, and, whenever he is available, as an invaluable element in Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band. In the smaller rooms, where music of a more intimate character is called for, the instrument he prefers is the flugelhorn, a larger brother of the trumpet with a fuller sound. He stresses the importance of achieving a close rapport with his audience and always seeks to communicate warmth and happiness.

Success has not spoiled Clark Terry. He has come a long way from St. Louis, to the top of his profession, without a gimmick and without eccentricity of personal behavior. For those who like good music on trumpet (and flugelhorn), the astonishingly versatile Clark Terry is the man!

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