Saturday, February 28, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A Clark Terry retrospective

Today, as funeral services for Clark Terry take place in New York City, StLJN pays tribute to the late, great trumpeter and St. Louis native with a video retrospective of his career. (You can see previous coverage of Terry's passing here and here.)

Over the past decade, StLJN has featured Terry in several previous video showcases, and this post includes some favorites from those posts, as well as some clips previously unseen here. Fortunately, there's a wealth of video of Terry available online, and while it wasn't easy to narrow the field, even to a dozen clips, these examples should provide a good overview.

The first clip up above shows Terry with a small group drawn from the Count Basie Orchestra, performing "Royalty in Rhythm." Although the clip is undated, Terry played with the Count between 1948 and 1951, so it most likely was recorded sometime during that three-year stretch.

After the jump, you'll see a 1958 video of the Duke Ellington Orchestra playing "El Gato," which featured the band's trumpet section, then comprised of Terry, fellow St. Louis native Harold "Shorty" Baker, Ray Nance, and Cat Anderson, for whom the piece was named.

Clip number three was recorded in 1960 in Belgium, and shows Terry as the featured soloist with the Quincy Jones Big Band in an arrangement of pianist Bobby Timmons' hard-bop standard "Moanin."

The fourth video demonstrates Terry's skills as a ballad player, as he performs "Stardust" in a 1964 concert in London, backed by a group including pianist Teddy Wilson, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Louie Bellson.

Next, you can see Terry performing with pianist Oscar Peterson's trio, with Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums, at a concert recorded March 23, 1965 in Finland. These four musicians had recorded the album Oscar Peterson Trio + One the previous year, which proved to be a fairly big hit by jazz standards and helped introduce Terry's signature tune "Mumbles" to a worldwide audience.

After that, you can see Terry and another of his closest musical associates from the 1960s, valve trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer, as they co-lead a quintet in a 1965 broadcast recorded in London for the BBC program Jazz 625.

Terry's steady gig for much of the 1960s was the band for NBC's Tonight Show, which he integrated when he became the orchestra's first African-American member in 1962. In the seventh clip, you can see Terry on the Tonight Show in October 1965 as the featured soloist on a version on Ellington's "In A Mellow Tone." (The show was then based in NYC, but was broadcasting from Los Angeles that week, which is why the set looks unfamiliar and the band except for Terry is comprised of West Coast musicians.)

After leaving the Tonight Show, Terry led his own orchestra, the Big Bad Band, intermittently through the 1970s and early 1980s, and today's eighth clip shows just over 19 minutes of that group in action. The location and date weren't indicated in the YouTube annotations, but judging from the way the musicians are dressed, the late 1970s seems like a good guess for the latter.

Below that, you can see another side of Terry, as he plays "Stormy Monday" with another American musical icon, blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. This clip was recorded in July, 1977 in Nice, France, with Muddy's band, which included Bob Margolin (guitar), Guitar Junior (guitar), Pinetop Perkins (piano), Calvin Jones (bass), and Willy "Big Eyes" Smith (drums).

Video number ten features another cameo appearance by Terry, as he serves up some flugelhorn and vocals for Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" on Late Night with David Letterman with Jones' orchestra and saxophonist Phil Woods, who takes the solo before Terry's. Again, this clip is undated, but logic suggests it was recorded not too long after the tune was featured in the title sequence of the movie Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, which came out in 1997.

In the eleventh clip, recorded in 2001, Terry converses with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in an extended version of "Mumbles," backed by Herbie Hancock on piano, Russell Malone on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, Roy Haynes on drums, and James Carter on saxophone.

We close out our video tribute to Clark Terry with a complete set recorded in 2002 at a jazz festival on the island of St. Lucia, featuring Terry's own quintet with Donald Harrison on alto sax, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Curtis Lundy on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. It's quite a testament to Terry's skills that even in his 80s, at an age when many brass musicians find their physical abilities greatly diminished, he still was able to lead a band of musicians half his age and play this well.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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