Clark Terry has carved out a uniquely varied and enduring career, which has spanned over 50 years to date. His masterful technique on the trumpet and flugelhorn, combined with his famed good humor and love for music, make him not only a living legend, but also a true artist. On Terry's newest recording for Chesky Records, One On One (JD198), he and fourteen of the world's preeminent Jazz pianists celebrate the artistry of their favorite composers and musical influences. In so doing, they create a monumental project which pays tribute to the river of inspiration that flows among musical innovators.
Terry grew up as one of ten children in St. Louis, Missouri. His oldest sister and her husband, with whom he lived starting when he was nine, had a household filled with music. His uncle's position playing tuba in Dewey Jackson's band, The Musical Ambassadors, made a great impact on Terry, who watched the band practice. When Terry was thirteen years old, he joined the local drum and bugle corps and soon got his first professional gig with the band Dollar Bill and His Small Change. Between this time and 1942, when he joined the Navy, Terry played with several other bands throughout the Midwest.
After his discharge from the Navy in 1945, Terry joined Lionel Hampton's band and traveled to California, where he then joined Count Basie's Big Band shortly before it broke up due to financial problems. Terry stayed in California and played in Basie's octet for five years and Duke Ellington's band, as a featured soloist, for eight years.
After touring Europe with The Quincy Jones Orchestra, Terry became one of the first black musicians to join a television network's studio orchestra. For more than a decade he was a featured player in The Tonight Show Orchestra on NBC. During these years, Terry continued to do studio recordings and, for a short time in the 1970s, led his own band, Clark's Big Bad Band.
His next forum was the classroom, where he has become one of the leading figures in Jazz education, imparting his knowledge of brass playing, musicianship, and life's lessons to a generation of youngsters everywhere. His pioneering work using half-valve techniques and muted effects helped to influence such musicians as Miles Davis.
Terry has been awarded four honorary doctorate degrees, received several Grammy Award nominations, had two music schools named after him, and has been a guest at the White House several times, including President Nixon's birthday party for Duke Ellington and Lady Bird Johnson's Jazz Christmas party.