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Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry


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Clark Terry (Author), Gwen Terry (Editor), Bill Cosby (Foreword), Quincy Jones (Preface)

Compelling from cover to cover, this is the story of one of the most recorded and beloved jazz trumpeters of all time. With unsparing honesty and a superb eye for detail, Clark Terry, born in 1920, takes us from his impoverished childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, where jazz could be heard everywhere, to the smoke-filled small clubs and carnivals across the Jim Crow South where he got his start, and on to worldwide acclaim. Terry takes us behind the scenes of jazz history as he introduces scores of legendary greats—Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, and Dianne Reeves, among many others. Terry also reveals much about his own personal life, his experiences with racism, how he helped break the color barrier in 1960 when he joined the Tonight Show band on NBC, and why—at ninety years old—his students from around the world still call and visit him for lessons.

About the Author

Clark Terry's illustrious career—as an innovative trumpeter and flugelhornist, horn designer, leading jazz educator, and composer—has covered an epic span of jazz history. Winner of the 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an NEA Jazz Master, in addition to many other accolades and awards, Terry is the author of Let's Talk Trumpet: From Legit to Jazz and The Interpretation of the Jazz Language, both with Phil Rizzo.

Praise for Clark Terry

“[Clark Terry has] changed the institution of jazz education, creating new standards for a performer's generous relationship with students of all types, and a healthy respect for the place of a thorough education in the evolution of jazz."

—Jazzed: Jazz Education Jrnl

“Clark Terry is the epitome of jazz trumpet, of jazz, and of human kindness. His playing is impeccable and original, scintillating, humorous, and brimming with pluckish wit and late-night pungence. His style is virtuosic and deeply intelligent. It cannot be identified by decade or era or style (as it is timeless and definitive of American Jazz and the profoundest aspirations of the jazzman): to be one of a kind, to endure, to inspire, to be truthful, to be accurate, to swing. He has inspired thousands of younger musicians and nourished us with his interest, his knowledge, and his love. His contributions go far beyond the bandstand and he will always be an indelible part of our lives, inseparable from our identity as musicians and people. We all love him deeply. And forever."—Wynton Marsalis

“Clark Terry is a living history of much of jazz, to which he has contributed as a deeply imaginative soloist and influential band leader. His additional life mission has long been 'to teach as many young musicians as I could.' His first pupil was Quincy Jones and he was the first to recognize the potential of Miles Davis. To this day, Clark's international impact is such that young students come to his home in a small town in Arkansas from Israel, Australia, and other lands to take lessons from Clark. Now, at last, in this memoir of his storied career, Clark swingingly personifies the multi-dimensional jazz life. He writes as he plays—the very sounds and rhythms of surprise!"—Nat Hentoff, author of At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene

“Clark Terry is the unique voice in America's creative art form called jazz. I would not have a career without him. His friends and admirers cover the whole planet."—Jimmy “Little Bird" Heath

“Clark Terry has not only been living his dream, he has spent his life helping others to achieve their dreams as well. He's an extraordinary role model and mentor who has walked the walk. And now, in addition to decades of wonderful music, he is giving us another gift, his autobiography. It is up to us to share the love, the music, and the stories with our children, and our children's children, for this is how they'll learn. Thank you, Clark, for the wonderful example you have set. We love you."—Nancy Wilson

“Clark Terry is an American Master. I love to listen to him, particularly 'Mumbles.' I was so delighted when we received degrees together, along with Edward Kennedy, at the New England Conservatory in 1997."—Aretha Franklin

“I've always been a great admirer of Clark Terry's work on the trumpet and flugelhorn, and now I have become a big admirer of his work as an author—you will love this book." —Clint Eastwood

“I met Clark when I was sixteen years old. He saw something in me and without hesitation planted me in the most fertile soil any aspiring artist could hope to be in . . . his heart. I am eternally grateful for his generous spirit, love, encouragement, storytelling, and above all laughter throughout the years! Clark . . . I love you madly."—Dianne Reeves

“I've come to know Clark as undoubtedly the greatest teacher in the history of jazz. From the mentoring of Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, to the millions of young musicians touched by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz all over the globe, Clark and his incredible music stand as a symbol of intellect and spirituality of the highest order to all of us. Thank God for Clark Terry!" —Thelonious Monk, III

“Thank you, Clark, for a lifetime of your incredible talents, and for filling this world with so much love. All of us at the Jazz Foundation of America are sincerely thankful for your compassion and involvement in our efforts to help musicians in need. You are an inspiration and a classic role model truly beyond category!" —Wendy Oxenhorn

“His style, his sound, his look, his voice, his heart, his soul. That's what inspires Snoop Dogg about Mr. Terry. If I could only do half of what he did in the music business, my life would be complete. I had the honor and pleasure of spending a few days with Mr. Terry. He's the greatest to ever do it. Thank you, Uncle Quincy, for introducing me to Mr. Mumbles!!!" —Snoop Dogg

“Clark and I have been friends for many decades, and I've always enjoyed his music. Recently, on a long, three-hundred-mile drive to our gig, we listened to Clark's wonderful Porgy and Bess album. This was the second or third time that we'd done that. It sure was some great playing on your part, Clark! We enjoyed those Chicago Jazz Orchestra brass players, too. Congratulations on your book." —Dave Brubeck

“When I saw Clark performing at the Blue Note in New York, I thought to myself, 'Could this be what all of us instrumentalists are really trying to do?' Before my eyes and ears, the legend/man/craftsman went there. As I saw it, there was straight to the source of personal expression. Through Mumbles or through the flugelhorn, the man spoke to me that night, and I'll remember that always as a larger than life experience." —Esperanza Spalding

“Clark Terry is a jazz superstar, and one of the most extraordinary individuals I have ever encountered. He's a world-class musician, educator, composer, jazz pioneer, and a co-founder of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He has inspired people of all ages with his humor, courage, passion and vision. Thanks for your friendship, Clark, and for always being there for the Institute." —Tom Carter

“Whenever I see Clark Terry, I always look forward to talking to him and reminiscing about the early bebop years. There's an expression coined by Lester Young that succinctly says it all about Clark Terry: 'chandelier,' a raconteur par excellence, Mumbles-brilliant, original musical brilliance. It has been a privilege." —Billy Dee Williams

“The one I admire without restriction is Clark Terry, whose pronunciation at the trumpet or bugle is a model of sharpness, clearness and authority. A model which is given with generosity to all of those who want to play this instrument...the way it should be played." —Maurice André

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