Interview: Clark Terry (Part 1) - JazzWax

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October 04, 2010


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Keith Hedger

Marc (or anyone),

Can you give me some album names for the Ellington band when Clark was a member? I've been looking, but there's so much Eillingtonia out there it's hard to be confident if something's from the period. I'd like to get some of these -- Clark's one of my trumpet Gods!!! =:-)


Chris Galuman

I remember seeing the "Tonight Show" when Clark was a member of the band. They brought him down front to play a solo and he turned his horn upside-down and played pushing the valves UP with his fingers -and WAILED! Carson made a joke afterward to the effect - "Clark Terry, great musician -if only someone would have told him to turn the horn over." I also liked the Oscar Petersen record where he answered himself with trumpet in one hand and flugel in the other.

Ed Leimbacher

Marc's probably got that covered in upcoming sections, but here's a few: Live in Seattle from '52 on RCA, Jazz Showcase on Capitol (Clark has Harlem Airshaft feature), many mid-Fifties albums on Columbia, including both Live at Newport years, Live at Plaza, Such Suite Thunder, Jazz Party, Jazz in Orbit. Later classic albums co-leading group with Bob Brookmeyer. Saw Terry with Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra a few years back, and he was a treat--played well or comically as the mood took him. He's one of a kind, broke the mold musician and man.


In addition to the ones listed by Ed, there are Ellington Uptown, Ellington 55, At the Alahambra, The Ellington Suites, Anatomy of a Murder, And His Mother Called Him Bill (and probably several more.) I'll leave it to Marc to sort out the ones with the best Clark features. The alternating trumpet fluglehorn thing was something he used quite a bit. With that, the mumbling, and other shenanigans he was quite a showman, but always in a musical way. An album called The Second Set on Chesky includes a hilarious 11 minute interview with Clark talking about touring with Basie.

Richard Salvucci

My Heavens: the album he made with Oscar Peterson is a trumpet player's dream--and if you play, a lot of his solos from that album have been transcribed by Mark Helgesen. There is a version of Clark live doing Perdido with Ellington on one of those compilations that has a title like "Jazz in the 1950s" It'll either drive you to practice or quit.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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