The great jazz trumpeter Clark Terry passed away on February 21, 2015 at the age of 94. He lived a full musical life and had played in bands led by such luminaries as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Quincy Jones.
Terry, who played the flugelhorn in addition to trumpet, was a personal favorite of mine because he had such a warm, personal tone on his instrument. That’s the kind of thing we pianists can learn from horn players. Since they literally breathe into their instruments, brass and woodwind players tend to develop more of an individual sound than many pianists do. But by trying to establish a direct connection between our “inner life” and the piano, we can develop our own sound too.
I met Clark Terry once, after a concert he gave during the mid-1980s at The Hartford Jazz Society in Connecticut. I remember listening to the concert and trying to absorb his music like a sponge. I knew his generation wouldn’t be around forever so I wanted to internalize as much as I could that evening. I went up and spoke with him for a few minutes after the concert and he was very friendly.
Take a moment and listen to his beautiful expressive playing on the blues. As an added bonus, you’ll also hear the legendary Oscar Peterson on piano. I chose this slow blues since both jazz and rock musicians will find something to relate to in the music. Here it is: Enjoy! “Chops” (Clark Terry and Oscar Peterson duet)
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