I was saddened to read the other day of the passing of Clark Terry. The great trumpeter was ninety-four and had been active well into his 10th decade. Just last fall he was the subject of a documentary, Keep On Keepin’ On. That film captures Mr. Terry mentoring a young protege, a role to which Terry was well suited. He was a mentor to many of the leading jazz figures of the day. Pupils included Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. Terry he had an illustrious career in his own right also. Over the decades he worked with Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra to name two.
Terry was born in 1920. To put this in perspective: this was one year after the Harlem Hellfighters returned from France. James Reese Europe, the leader of the 369th Regimental Band that had done so much to bring jazz across the Atlantic during the Great War, died just a few months after the Hellfighters returned to the United States. During the Second World War Terry himself would play in a military jazz band, just as Europe and his men had done during the First. Terry went through basic training in Waukegan, Illinois, the site north of Chicago on Lake Michigan reserved for the training of African-American troops. He then played in bands on bases throughout the country.
After the war Terry settled in New York and was part of the jazz scene. He joined what one might call the African-American expatriate community in Corona, Queens. Corona in the 1940s-50s was an enclave of detached houses to which many black musicians moved to enjoy a quieter lifestyle away from the nightclubs of the city. Neighbors included Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley.
Here is some hot music for a cold evening.