Celebrating and Happy!

My 92nd birthday is on the 14th of December! You’d better believe that I’m thanking Big Prez (Clark’s nickname for God) for that blessing, and I’m praying to enjoy all of the “goodies” that are in store for me.

Talking about being grateful. Man. I appreciate all the love from everybody who inspired me to “Keep On Keepin’ On!” And you know what? When you get to be an old fart like me, that’s the most important thing.  Love. Pure and simple. That’s what keeps me going.

To me, there are lots of different types of love. Big Prez is love. Jazz is love. Phone calls, family, cards, letters. My students and friends and fans. The list is long. And it’s something that I definitely don’t take for granted.

The surprises that are in the works for me, that’s love. Now, I don’t know which ones, but a “little birdie” told me that some of my students are coming here to play for me on my birthday. I can’t wait! When I hear how they have progressed, it just fills me to the brim. Totally.

Quincy Jones was my first student, back in the late ‘40’s, and look at him now. Man! I’m so proud of him. He just signed one of my students for a world tour – Justin Kauflin. Now, that’s what I’m talking about! Helping young musicians up the ladder. Believe me, mentoring is what we all need to concentrate on.  (See Justin play piano in a trailer of the upcoming documentary “Keep On Keepin’ On.”)

This is a picture of me hanging out with the cats. That’s Ethan (Heyenga) on sax, and Josh (Shpak) on trumpet. They’re some very talented young musicians who flew down from Berklee to study with me. And on piano, that’s my good friend, Alan (Matheson). A great musician. Plays a mean cornet, too! He came down from Canada to shoot the breeze with us. They jammed up a storm!

Clark, Ethan Heyenga, Josh Shpak, and Alan Matheson

L-R: Me, Ethan Heyenga, Josh Shpak, and Alan Matheson
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

Teaching young cats is the way to go. When I think about some of my good friends – Billy Taylor, James Moody, Jimmy Heath and Frank Wess – and other cats like me who were on the jazz education scene from waaaay back, and then I hear some of these young lions out here perpetuating our music, it’s a good feeling. A really good feeling.

Cats like Dave Brubeck who started schools and things like that, they gave a lot of love, you know. A lot of love for a lot of students. Man, I miss Dave. He would have been 92 on the 6th. He was a real cool cat. Nice cat. Excellent musician, and I always enjoyed being around him. I liked the way that he took his music away from the norm. Made you think about it, appreciate it, and love it. “Take Five” was one of my favorite tunes of his. I can hear it now…

And that blurb he wrote, on the second page of my book, I really appreciated it:

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!”

Please click here for more on Dave.

So, as far as I’m concerned, Dave is right here with me, celebrating my birthday and his, along with a whole slew of our friends who are up there with Big Prez. And to all of my beautiful friends here who sent me cards, folks who called me and wrote letters, I want to thank you. All of your prayers, I can’t tell you how much it all means.

When my good friend Mickarl Thomas showed up here from Flint for a surprise birthday visit, man, I loved it! He brought his wife, Ann, with him. Beautiful people. Now, he’s a preacher, but when I tell you that he can tell some great jokes, you’d better believe it! He had me laughing hard. I love a good joke. He and his wife love to help the young folks at their church.

Mickarl Thomas, his wife, Ann, and mePhoto Credit: Gwen Terry

Mickarl Thomas, his wife, Ann, and me
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

You know, it doesn’t matter what business our young people want to get into, they all need guidance. My neighbor, Monte (Coleman), was just named “Coach of the Year,” and his football team just won the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) Championship! He’s working with those Golden Lions at UAPB (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). And his quarterback, Ben Anderson, surprised me with a birthday visit. This young man threw a 95-yard touchdown pass! He’s a real nice kid with a bright future ahead. He said that he plays the sax, and his father is a big jazz fan. You can read more about Ben and the championship game here.

That’s Ben Anderson (holding my book) and mePhoto Credit: Gwen Terry

That’s Ben Anderson (holding my book) and me
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

I wonder what other birthday surprises are down the pike? I’ve been thinking about my birthday cake, and what it’s gonna look like. Now, I know that I’m diabetic, but I told Gwen that I just want to taste a small piece. If they put 92 candles on my cake, I guess I’ll have to do some circular-breathing to blow them out!  I’ll be thinking about you, sending my love to each and every one of you. And for my wish, I’m hoping that you’ll keep helping our young folks to make their dreams come true!

Celebrating and happy,

(He is enjoying your comments below and in his Guestbook so, so much! God bless you all. Love, Gwen)

| Birthday Wishes, happenings | 28 Comments

28 Responses to Celebrating and Happy!

  1. Justin Vargo says:

    Dear Mr. Terry,

    Happy Birthday! It’s hard to believe that it has been 5 years since I saw you perform in Cleveland. Time flies, but your positive attitude endures. Take care, and don’t eat too much cake!


  2. Dear Clark,
    Congratulations, blessings and all my love on your birthday-and every day! You are such an inspiration to anyone who knows you and knows your music. It was such a pleasure to see you last month it was my privilege to comp for you, Josh and Ethan. You are the embodiment of music, soul and love!

  3. Happy Birthday, Clark! I am the classmate of two hip trumpeters, Doug Desale from West Islip, NY and Dr. Ron McCurdy from Florida A&M University. Both men hold you in high esteem, as do I. Remember, you’re not getting older, the world is finally getting more hip to you! God bless you!

  4. Angela says:

    Happy Birthday Clark!

    I will always remember meeting you when you joined us at UNH (2002-03). Even though I am a French Horn player and wasn’t in the jazz band to get to play with you onstage, I want to thank you, it was a show I’ll never forget.

    I hope you have an absolutely wonderful birthday celebration – show those candles who’s boss, and congratulations! 🙂

    Angela DiBartolomeo

  5. Best wishes and love from us both on your birthday Clark. Have a lovely day and enjoy your slice of cake 😉
    Keep on, keepin on!

    Heather and Zoë

  6. Happy birthday Clark Terry! You are one of St. Louis’ greatest musical treasures.

  7. Michael Miller says:

    Happy 92nd birthday to you, Clark!

    For someone whose signature song is, “Mumbles”, your musical messages are always clear and direct. You are a one-of-a-kind Master who has done so much for this world, and we look forward to enjoying your joy and wisdom for many more years to come!

    Have the happiest, jolliest 92nd birthday you’ve ever had!

    Love lots,

    Michael, Noah, and Josh (“The California Trio”)

  8. Happy Birthday from Kansas City! Thank you for all the great music you have made and for sharing your time and talent with young people.

  9. Ewan Mains says:

    Happy Birthday Clark. I hope there are still many, many more to come. Thanks for sharing your love x

  10. prezz says:

    Happy birthday from San sebastian, Basque Country!!!

  11. Eddy Curtis says:

    It is indeed all about love when it comes down to it. I’m very happy knowing that you are taken care of and surrounded by good things. Happy Birthday and may many good blessing always continue for you and yours!

  12. Dale Carlson says:

    A very happy birthday to you! It’s been great to read your recent posts. Your energy and love of life are contagious. I hope you’ve started writing your next book- I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy all of your birthday surprises. All the best in the years to come.

  13. Sheila, Odell, Ruth & Dr. McGowan says:

    Dearest Uncle CT,

    We are so very delighted to wish you a HAPPY 92nd Birthday! WOW, 92 years on this planet! You have certainly introduced the world to the magic of your love. And the world is such a better place because of you, the love you have shared, the lives you have touched and the music you have bestowed upon us all.. Uncle CT please, allow us to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU AND THANK YOU.

    We are so blessed to hear your laughter and to share the warmth of your smile. Your music will continue to enlighten our youth, charm the masses and leave the world breathless. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of GOD’S special angels. Continue this FANTASTIC journey and WE LOVE YOU MADLY..KEEP ON KEEPING ON.

    Peace unto you,
    Your St. Louis, Mo Family,
    Sheila,Odell, Ruth and Dr.Jason McGowan

  14. Paul Neveu says:

    hi Clark ! I just wanted to send our thoughts and best wishes, from Paul, Frank and Tom at UNH (from the 1990 – 1991 era), with Dave Seiler and the jazz band crew in New Hampshire. You remember big Frank — who could forget him? I saw Frank a couple weeks ago and we were just remembering how awesome it was to spend time with you at UNH and on the other trips and tours.. the memories are just amazing. Clark, thank you for ALL you have done for young people at the many colleges and high schools across the country where you have been involved. You are truly an amazing musician and role model, and we will be eternally grateful for the time you spent with us. We also have fond memories of other incredible musicians you brought to the UNH campus, like Jimmy Heath, James Moody and others. These are memories we will never forget.

    Hang in there, my friend. We are sending thoughts to you at this time.

    Yours in friendship,

    Paul, Tom and Frank
    UNH, 1990 – 1992

  15. Dale Mitchell says:

    Clark, you have been my teacher since I heard you do “Mumbles” on the Tonight Show. You performed with my college big band. You inspire me! Happy Birthday!

  16. Bill Lowe says:

    Maestro! Happy Birthday!! Think of you always and talk about you a lot.
    I often tell the story of being on your bus with your band for my first time on our way from New York to West Virginia and other points south. You were telling a long story to the entire bus that involved the mention of Chitlins. You stopped, turned to me and with that sly look of yours, asked, “Well, Bill, you’re the English prof, is it Chitlins is or Chitlins are…?” “Maestro,” I said, “Chitlins just be…” Not bad for a scared bass trombone player!!
    Love you Boss!

  17. Tom Smith says:

    Happy Birthday Clark from out her in Columbus Ohio!! I have the 1969 White House Concert playing right now, with you and Bill Berry going at it, and Dave Brubeck on the 88’s! My daughter Allison is now teaching music in the Columbus Public Schools, so both Laura and Allison are teaching. Allison just taught her elementary school kids SALT PEANUTS, Laura showed her class Mumbles on you tube!!
    Have the HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY!! You have brought so much love to so many people, there is no greater thing to give.
    Your friend, Tom Smith.

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

    Dearset Cuzzy Wuzzy,

    Sending much love and affection to you on your BIRTHDAY!
    You are so special to so many and will always hold a warm place in my heart… Mona Terry

  19. Steve Lucas says:

    Happy, happy birthday. You have been a life long inspiration for me over my 56 years and continue to be so. I met you when you judged a competition my band was in when I was in in high school and I’ve been a dedicated fan ever since. You are the BEST!!!!! Keep on keeping on. We are so very fortunate to have you. All the best and congratulations!!

  20. Wishing you a happy birthday, with much love and appreciation from your hometown of St. Louis!