He has played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948 to 1951), Duke Ellington (1951 to 1959), and Quincy Jones (1960). He has also performed and recorded regularly both as a leader and sideman. In all, his career in jazz spans more than sixty years.
Terry was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Vashon High School there and began his professional career in the early 1940s by playing in local clubs before joining a Navy band during World War II.
His years with Basie and 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. (Terry had informally taught Davis while they were still in St Louis.)
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 as a regular member of the Tonight Show Band led first by Skitch Henderson, then by Doc Severinsen, where his unique "mumbling" scat singing became famous when he scored a hit as a singer with "Mumbles."
He also continued to play 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; he has also been known to perform solos on a trumpet or flugelhorn mouthpiece.
From the 1970s through the 1990s, 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. In 1998, Terry recorded George Gershwin's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Rhapsody, a tribute to George Gershwin, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In 2001, he again recorded for the Red Hot Organization with artist Amel Larrieux for the compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington
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 six continents.
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.
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 with the likes of brandford Marsalis, Conrad Herwig and Tony Lujan. The Clark Terry Archive at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, contains instruments, tour posters, awards, original copies of over 70 big band arrangements, recordings and other memorabilia.
Terry was a long-time resident of Bayside, Queens and Corona, Queens, New York. He and his wife later moved to Haworth, New Jersey. They currently reside in Pine Bluff, AR.
Clark Terry nació el 14 de diciembre de 1920 en Saint Louis, EEUU. Es un trompetista de Jazz Estadounidense.
En su período militar, estuvo con la orquesta de Charlie Barnet, Quincy Jones, entre otros grandes maestros. Después estuvo en la primera fila en pequeñas orquestas de Jazz, destacando en su instrumento. Finalmente, en la década los años 40 tuvo su propia orquesta de Jazz. También posee habilidad musical en el fliscorno(un instrumento musical parecido al Bugle). Ha escrito libros sobre su vida, de historia de la música y cómo tocar la trompeta. Actualmente, sigue en actividad, tocando para otros músicos y cantantes.