Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Meet - Clark Terry

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Clark TerryInstitute Co-Founder and Trustee

One of the Institute's co-founders, Clark Terry serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. Terry has passed on his formidable knowledge of jazz to the Institute's young, aspiring jazz musicians by serving as an Artist-in-Residence at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance on many occasions. He has served as a judge for the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition and a featured performer at the Institute’s All-Star Benefit Concerts. In 1989, Terry led the Institute's first international program, a multi-week summer academy in Dolo, Italy. Most recently, Terry performed his classic "Mumbles" for a capacity audience at the Institute’s 2010 All-Star Benefit Concert.

Clark Terry's infectious humor and swinging melodies still thrill audiences worldwide and have earned him a permanent place in the hearts of all jazz fans. A native of St. Louis, Terry made his first trumpet out of a garden hose. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Terry performed in bands led by Charlie Barnet, Charlie Ventura, Eddie Vinson and Count Basie. His playing had a profound effect on the styles of Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. In 1951, Terry joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, where he remained for eight years and shone as a featured soloist on trumpet and flugelhorn. He then became the first African-American staff musician at NBC, where he performed with the Tonight Show Band led by Doc Severinsen for more than 10 years. His character "Mumbles" became a hit during his association with the show. Terry's more than 300 credits include recordings with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Wes Montgomery, Milt Jackson and Dianne Reeves. Terry has performed for seven U.S. Presidents and was a Jazz Ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. Among his many accolades: he has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and has been given 16 honorary doctorates.

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