Clark Terry, the jazz trumpeter who performed early in his career with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus, and who went on to mentor a generation of jazz musicians from Miles Davis to Dizzy Gillespie (who said that he considered Terry the greatest trumpeter in the world), died yesterday at his home in Pine Bluff, where he retired in 2006. He was 94.
“He left us peacefully, surrounded by his family, students and friends,” as his wife Gwen said on Facebook
Terry, who won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2010, was also the first black member of the "Tonight Show" band, which he played with from 1960 to 1972, and later toured the world as a “jazz ambassador” for the State Department.
In December we wrote about a visit
by Wynton Marsalis to Terry's hospital in Pine Bluff. Marsalis described it on Facebook:
As Clark's bed was wheeled in we launched into Duke and Strayhorn's “Peanut Brittle Brigade” from their version of Tchaikovsky's “Nutcracker”. After playing, we each went over to his bed, introduced ourselves and said a little something about our pedigree and how much we appreciated his contributions to our personal development and to the music. He recognized each of us and responded to every salutation with some pithy comment of joyful appreciation.
The Washington Post
In a city brimming with jazz sounds, Mr. Terry as a child fashioned a makeshift trumpet using household parts including a garden hose and lead piping. The contraption made such an offensive noise that neighbors put together a collection to buy a real trumpet from a pawnshop.