Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame is asking jazz fans to help select its next set of inductees through online voting, and legendary trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry (pictured) is one of this year's nominees.
Started in 2004, the Hall currently has 34 members, including former St. Louisan Miles Davis. If elected, Terry, who's now 92, would be only the third musician (along with Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman) to be honored with induction while still living.
Fans can cast their votes between now and March 31 on JALC's website. Each person who registers an e-mail address can vote for up to four nominees. Only those nominees who get at least three-quarters of the vote will be honored, up to a maximum of four inductees this year. If no one gets 75 percent of the vote, the top vote-getter will be inducted.
Interestingly, Terry isn't the only musician with St. Louis ties who is eligible for election this year. Also on the ballot is bassist Jimmy Blanton, who worked here in the late 1930s with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra and gained fame for his innovative bass playing with Duke Ellington from 1939 to 1941. Blanton died of tuberculosis at age 23 in 1942.
There's also one other living nominee this year, the great bebop drummer Roy Haynes, who's just turned 88. Other nominees include James P. Johnson, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Don Redman, and Ben Webster.
With a storied career spanning nearly eight decades, Terry certainly meets the Hall's criteria for election. He's made hundreds of records, played thousands of gigs all over the world, and his tune "Mumbles" is familiar to jazz fans everywhere as a humorous demonstration of the art of scat singing. Among his many noteworthy accomplishments, Terry also is one of a select group of jazz musicians to have performed with the orchestras of both Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and he was one of the first African-American musicians hired by a orchestra on network TV when he joined the band for NBC's Tonight Show in the early 1960s.
Equally important is that Clark Terry is, simply put, an exemplary human being and a great ambassador for jazz. Terry has taught and mentored hundreds of musicians who have gone on to have professional careers, and his positive attitude about life and continued good humor, even in the face of serious health issues in recent years, have served as inspiration to countless other musicians and fans alike.
If you need further convincing, just consult the biography on Terry's website or his Wikipedia page, which shows that he's already the recipient of more than 250 awards and honors, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, and numerous honorary doctorates from colleges and universities.
So, St. Louis jazz fans, the ball's in your court. To help elect Clark Terry to the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, please go here before March 31 and cast your vote.
(Edited 3/13/13 to correct Roy Haynes' age and the spelling of "Nesuhi")