Beautiful Things Are Happening!

Your help has brought us to tears many times. Clark said, “There are no words to explain how happy you have made me. I still can’t believe that all of these beautiful things are happening.”

Because of you, we are able to afford the 24-hour acute health care that he needs here at home. Since the memorable fundraiser held for Clark on April 23rd at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan, he’s been on the phone daily with fellow musicians and friends to share his appreciation for everyone who helped to make the event a big success. Other friends worldwide have sent donations, and we’re enjoying the opportunity to write many letters of gratitude for such an outpouring of love.

One week after the fundraiser, Terri Lyne Carrington called and asked Clark if he would like to record a track on her newest project – a CD featuring Duke Ellington’s music. He said, “Well, you know, my hands are pretty stiff, but I’ll do my best.”

Terri Lyne is one of his former students, and we were very happy when she won a Grammy this past February. Clark said, “She’s got some serious talent. I’m so glad that it was recognized.”

On May 24th, she flew down from Boston to do the session. Richard Bailey, who teaches Audio Recording at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), did the engineering. Although arthritis presented some challenges for Clark in playing his trumpet, he had no trouble at all when he lit up the room with his scat-singing and “Mumbles” riffs. We were all “wowed!”

Later, when I asked him about the session, he said, “I had a lot of fun doing it. I really did. But the main thing is that Terri Lyne said that she was happy with what I did. That’s what matters the most to me.”

L-R: Terri Lyne, Quincy Cavers, Richard Bailey and Clark
Photo by Gary Paris.

Four days after the recording session, Clark developed a serious urinary tract complication. He was admitted to the Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) hospital here in Pine Bluff on May 28th.

While he was being treated at JRMC, another wonderful fundraiser was given in Clark’s honor in Graz, Austria. The benefit concert which was held on May 30th was spearheaded by one of his former students, Stjepko Gut, who has played in many of Clark’s bands and taught at several universities internationally. They have been friends for forty years.

Stjepko also helped to compile Clark’s book of original compositions – Terry Tunes. For more info on this classic songbook, click here.

To see a flyer about some of the musicians who donated their performance at the Graz concert, please click here.

When I told Clark that the Graz benefit raised One Thousand Dollars, he said, “Looks like Big Prez (his nickname for God) is always sending more reasons for me to keep on keepin’ on. I appreciate Stjepko and all of the cats in Graz for being in my corner.”

Clark wasn’t able to appear on Skype during the concert because of a poor wi-fi connection from his room at JRMC. He asked me to go home and represent him on Skype, and to give his love to everyone. When I did, it was very heart-warming to see so much love being sent to Clark from Austria. I really enjoyed the music, especially their rendition of Clark’s tune, “Mumbles.” When I told Clark about it later, he had a big smile on his face.

Below is a photo of Stjepko’s ensemble from that night, which has additional musicians who weren’t listed on the above flyer.

L-R: Tuomo Uusitalo – piano, Stjepko Gut – tpt, Lubos Brtan – gtr., Anush Apoyan – vcls.,
Florian Muralter – bass, Sandor Molnar – sax, Gerhard Ornig – tpt,
Mathias Rupping – drms., and Simon Kintopp – tbn.
Photo by Gerald Imre.

On June 8th, Dr. Simmie Armstrong made arrangements to transfer Clark to the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) hospital in Little Rock for more treatments, under the care of Dr. Jonathan Laryea and his team of physicians.

While Clark was in UAMS, another spirit-lifter happened on June 12th! The Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) sponsored a grand Miles Davis Stamp Release Soiree at the historic Bogardus Mansion in Manhattan. For more info about the soiree, click here.

We were both thrilled that JFA sponsored such a fabulous celebration for Miles’ new forever stamp. Regarding the soiree, Clark said, “I appreciate what they (JFA) did for my man, Miles. I know he’s smiling down about the whole scene.”

JFA honored Clark at the soiree by providing postcards affixed with Miles’ new stamp in support of a Clark Terry Letter-Writing Campaign. Clark has received more than three hundred postcards from the event. It took quite a while, but he insisted that I read every one of them to him. He was quite overwhelmed during the reading. He said, “Can you believe this?”

Regarding JFA, Clark said, “They know how much I love them. Always have. Since the beginning. I love what they’re about. Helping jazz musicians. Not just saying it, but doing it.”

Alan Hicks, who is also a student of Clark’s, called to check on Clark’s condition at UAMS. When Clark told him that things were better, he asked Alan to come for a visit. At that time, although Clark’s urinary tract challenges were not completely resolved, at least his pain and complications had decreased dramatically.

Finally, the doctors told us that were pleased enough with his improvement to discharge him on June 13th. We were all thanking God! Alan and his friend, Adam Hart, went with me to help in bringing Clark home. One of Clark’s health aides, J’Marcus Walker was on hand to help, along with one of Clark’s students, Quincy Cavers. It definitely takes muscles to lift Clark from the car to his wheelchair, and then into his bed.

After seventeen days of treatments at JRMC and UAMS, when we got Clark settled at home, he said, “I’m thanking Big Prez for getting me out of those hospitals. Believe me!”

Alan, Adam, Quincy, and our son Gary surrounded Clark with love. Clark was giving jazz lessons from bedside, as usual, and then he asked about the progress on the film. Alan and Adam are the two young men who have been filming a documentary for two years entitled – “Keep On Keepin’ On.” It’s about Clark’s passion for teaching jazz, and it features one of Clark’s students named Justin Kauflin. To see a trailer of their film, please click here.

When Justin called to see how Clark was feeling, he found out that Alan and Adam were here so he wanted to come and play for Clark. He brought his seeing-eye-dog Candy with him, as usual. Whenever Clark was awake, they all kept him happy.

A few days later, Clark received a call from Quincy Jones (Q). They had been talking for at least a decade about doing a jazz CD with Snoop Dogg rapping, so that today’s rap generation can learn more about jazz musicians and the evolution of rap music.

In 2005, Q arranged a meeting in Manhattan with Clark and Snoop to discuss the project. I was with Clark at that meeting. Q joined in via speakerphone, and everybody had a great time. Snoop asked questions about jazz for hours, and Clark enjoyed sharing his experiences.

One of Snoop’s rappers, Terrace Martin, was filming the meeting for a future documentary. He surprised us when he pulled out his sax and played ‘Round Midnight for Clark. When he finished, Clark had a huge smile on his face, and he congratulated Terrace.

Clark had a late dinner, told jokes, and hung out with Snoop and Terrace until 4 a.m. They talked, sang tunes, and laughed so much that night until Clark was hoarse the next night during his concert. He said, “It’s cool because I had a ball with Snoop and the cats!”

During the recent phone call, Q asked to be put on speakerphone so that I could be included. He said, “Young people need to know their music history. They need to know how rap and jazz are connected. How things have come down through the years. They need to know that jazz musicians originated rap way back in the day with things like ‘playing the dozens,’ and syncopated rhymes. They need to know their pioneers. The jazz legends. All the cats who paved the way, man.”

Clark said, “It’s all a process that took one step, and then another. The music kept stepping all the time, taking things to a different level. It’s all related.” As they talked, Clark said, “I love it when young rappers like Snoop know what’s happening. He’s very knowledgeable about the whole scene. And he’s got an extremely gifted jazz sax player with him. Terrace is a qualified jazz cat who seems to fit in both scenes – jazz and rap.”

After details were worked out to record some tracks, Snoop flew here for a day on June 17th, along with his engineer, Terrace Martin, and other members of his crew. When Snoop was talking with me about the project, he said, “I’m down with what Uncle Quincy (Q) wants to do. I came here to help bridge that gap between jazz and rap.”

L-R: Alan Hicks on camera, Clark, Terrace, and Snoop.
Photo by Quincy Cavers.

Terrace hung out with Clark to take some jazz lessons for a few days after Snoop left, and Quincy Cavers joined in with his sax. It was so great to see how happy Clark was as he talked about how much he enjoyed working with Snoop, while giving pointers to Terrace and Quincy.

On June 23rd, Q came here for a day to do a few more tracks. He said, “This is history! I’m glad that it’s finally getting done!”

Clark and Quincy
Photo by Alan Hicks.

When Justin played the piano during the recording session, Clark’s face was just beaming. I sat there in awe! Justin and Q talked a long time afterwards. I had tears in my eyes as I watched Clark’s first student – Q – and one of his latest students – Justin – having such a deep conversation right here at the kitchen table in our home, while Clark was napping in bed.

In the middle of the night, after Q had gone and everyone was asleep, I asked Clark how he felt about the session. He said, “I can’t really put into words how grateful I am. I love everybody who was here to record with me. Starting with Terri Lyne, and then Snoop, and my man, Q. I thank The Old Man Upstairs for the whole scene.”

When he spoke about his students, he said, “You know what my students mean to me. All of them. And Justin, I was so proud of him. He’s coming along beautifully. I think Q liked his playing, too. And I hope Q and Snoop were happy with what I did.”

Things calmed down for a few days, and then another one of Clark’s students, Chris Klaxton, came to visit on June 27th. He had just received his master’s degree from the University of Miami in Jazz Trumpet, and he wanted to see how Clark was doing. Chris has played in several of Clark’s youth bands and has traveled internationally with Clark.

Chris said, “I met Clark when I was fourteen. He means the world to me. I’ve learned so much from him, and I can never thank him enough.” They had a great time catching up on things, and listening to some of the music that Chris brought with him.

Most of Clark’s days are spent in bed, but he is able to sit in his wheelchair for two to three hours a day. His left leg amputation site is almost healed, and his appetite is healthy. He’s looking great and he says he’s feeling all right. When there are no visitors, he listens to music, talks on the phone, and enjoys hearing me read your comments on his site, as well as your letters and cards that come in the mail.

While he and I were finalizing this blog last night, he began reminiscing about some of his friends who aren’t here anymore. Among those he mentioned, he talked about two of our favorite ladies who have gone on to glory within the last few months – Carrie Smith and Phoebe Jacobs.

He said, “Carrie was a powerful singer. I enjoyed recording and working with her. When I used to announce her performance, I’d say, ‘You’d better listen, because you don’t get to hear this too often!’ She always created unexpected excitement.”

To see a youtube video of Carrie’s charismatic talent, click here.

Then he talked about Phoebe. “She was a real powerhouse on the jazz scene. Most people don’t know how serious she was. How she got Louie’s (Armstrong) camp going, and things like that. Whenever I needed something, I could always depend on Phoebe to get it done. She was frank, exact, and responsible.”

For more info about Phoebe, click here.

We also talked about how much has happened recently here at home, with plans for him to do more recording. As you can see, your prayers and love have lifted Clark’s spirit and helped to pull him through the avalanche of health challenges that he has faced. Although he still has some serious challenges, your love has helped him to have the courage to do three recent recording sessions, and to continue his greatest passion – teaching young jazz musicians.

He says, “I’m looking forward to more and more!” We still have plans for him to teach on Skype.

We send our love and gratitude to all of you. Please stay in touch, and continue to keep him in your prayers.

Blessings and hugs,

| happenings | 12 Comments

12 Responses to Beautiful Things Are Happening!

  1. I love CT we have had some great great times together through many many many years.I was so honored for Clark to play on my cd. I learned so much from Clark the numerous times he would call me up to jam with him at the Vanguard, even the blue note. He taught me alot about scat and Clark had no prejuidice wether you were a singer or not like some musicians..If more musicians would have CT’s attitude we would have a better jazz scene. I’m glad you are doing better clark…congrats on the dream come ture. Snoop is good people and many times I have posted to him what about jazz and he acknowledge it. It said the young musicians didnt get to have instruments in their schools so they could take music to another level.

  2. "Big Jim" Henry says:

    Hey Clark,
    So happy to see all the good things that are happening for you in the midst of all your health challenges.

    I am sitting here listening to you play as I write this little note and thinking about how much joy your playing has brought me for so many years beginning as a young player and now into my “middle” years.

    You keep on keepin’ on man.

    Peace and Love,

  3. Bill Gidley says:

    Dear Mr. Terry

    I’ve loved your music since I discovered it in jr. high school over 40 years ago! My teachers were big fans and let me borrow their CT records. One of my favorites featured you and Bob Brookmeyer.

    I met you at a clinic/concert in the early 70s in Tremonton, Utah. I asked you to explain circular breathing. You did! I practiced and figured it out. I’ve used it for 40 years and counting. Thanks!

    About 15 years ago I took my oldest son who played trumpet in his jr. high band to see you in a concert in Salt Lake City. We arrived minutes before it started. The place was packed. I figured we had nothing to lose so we walked right to the front. There were two seats on the front row next to Steve Williams and Wes Bowen from KUER radio. They motioned for us to sit – we didn’t wait for them to change their minds. You were awesome!

    I have to tell you a funny story from that concert. I don’t know if you were fooling with us or if you were wobbly, but here’s what happened. You had someone help you to your seat on stage. The KUER folks were directly in front of you and my son and I were on your immediate left. All night you stood each time to solo – I kept wishing you’d stay seated. At least twice during the concert you leaned very, very far forward ever so slowly as if you were going to fall. Each time Steve, Wes and I would come out of our seats, arms open to catch you, and you would very, very slowly lean back. I could swear there was a trace of a smile each time you did it. You devil, you!

    May God bless you and strengthen you in your trials. You’ve given so much to so many. Thank you. 

    Bill Gidley
    Utah, USA

  4. Dear CT,
    It’s so wonderful to hear about all that you’ve doing. You are a continuing inspiration to all of us! We’re in Helsinki at the moment and all the musicians I’ve been working with send their love and best wishes to you. Riina and I send our love, too, and I’ll look forward to talking to you soon. Lots of love,

  5. Mike and Zoe Johnston says:

    Dear Clark and Gwen,

    We’re in Denver with my parents, sister, and many friends who are all sending love your way. I’m hoping to get down your way sometime soon to give both of you a big hug! We wish for smiles, laughter, and no pain for you.

    Mike & Zoe, Nik & Billie Jo, Kelly Jo, etc…

    P.S. I sat in with Bob Montgomery the other night and he wanted to make sure you were sent nothing but the best!!!

  6. "CuZZy Mo" -aka Cousin Mona says:

    Nothin’ can keep you down Clark!
    What wonderful news to read you are makin music dispite the challenges you have faced recently. May you always remember how much you have influenced and blessed the world with your unique gift…always, Mona Terry

  7. Jon says:

    Dear Clark,

    Just a former student, thinking of you and sending you good vibes! I just got back to the US from a trip to South Africa, where my wife and I attended and performaed at the Grahamstown national arts festival. I just wanted to let you know that I met quite a few people all the way over there who are fans of yours, one South African trumpet player even referred to you as “A Legend, practically a Deity,” I couldn’t agree more. You are loved and admired all over the world! Keep on keepin’ on!

  8. mc from Paris says:

    Clark and Gwen, we are so happy to know you are well and that music is with you.

    Bless you, all our love from Paris!


  9. Michael Miller says:

    Dear Clark and Gwen,

    Over the past couple of months, I’ve really enjoyed hearing about all the buzz going down on Beech Street! And it was finally great to see it all in writing! The collaborative album with Snoop Dogg and the original rapper, Clark Terry, could perhaps be titled,”Teaching a New Dogg Old Tricks”!

    May the music, the merriment and, of course, the love, continue to blossom forever…! And we (Josh and Noah Shpak and myself) are sooooooo looking forward to spending a week with you starting August 22nd!

    Sending oodles (and, of course, “doodles”) of love…

    Michael Miller

  10. Michael Miller says:

    Dear Clark and Gwen,

    Over the past couple of months, I’ve really enjoyed hearing about all the buzz going down on Beech Street! And it was finally great to see it all in writing! The collaborative album with Snoop Dogg and the original rapper, Clark Terry, could perhaps be titled,”Teaching a New Dogg Old Tricks”!

    May the music, the merriment and, of course, the love, continue to blossom forever…! And we (Josh and Noah Shpak and myself) are sooooooo looking forward to spending a week with you starting August 22nd!

    Sending oodles (and, of course, “doodles”) of love…

    Michael Miller

  11. Joy Mestroni says:

    Great blog. Feel the love, dig the music !

  12. Trent says:

    Love you CT! I think of you all the time and don’t know if you can feel the constant hugs I send you!

    Keep on Keepin’ on!