An influence on Miles Davis and Art Farmer, a former valve trombonist who later played the bugle upon discharge from the Navy at the end of the second world war, Clark Terry, who has died aged 94, had a career that went all the way back to early days with Lionel Hampton’s band and during the 1940s playing in the bands of Charlie Barnet and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson as well as becoming a member of Count Basie’s big band and octet.
But it was Duke Ellington that the St. Louis-born player’s career really took off, and he worked with Duke throughout the 1950s also making records under his own name including In Orbit in 1958. Later following a stint with Quincy Jones Terry worked as a staff musician at NBC in the Tonight Show orchestra developing his “Mumbles” scatting routine (the composition of the same name featuring Terry as the Plus one with the Oscar Peterson trio even made the US album charts).
Later he co-led a quintet with Bob Brookmeyer, and from the early-1970s led his own small groups as well as a big band, and he also toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic. As an educator Terry set up his own music school in Iowa and his honours included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and becoming a French Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, as well as receiving a star on St. Louis’ Walk of Fame. Terry’s autobiography Clark was published in 2011 and he was featured in the 2014 documentary Keep on Keepin’ On, about his mentorship of blind pianist Justin Kauflin. On Dedication just released Kauflin dedicated 'For Clark' to Terry.
Clark Terry pictured above at the 1981 Monterey Jazz Festival. Photo: Brian McMillen/Wikipedia