Happy New Year!

Big Prez (Clark’s nickname for God) has blessed us all to get ready for 2013! Man, I’m wishing everybody a Happy New Year! I’m praying that your dreams will come true, and things will be better than ever for all of us.

Here at home, I am definitely going to celebrate. But first, I’m thanking Big Prez and all of you for helping me to stay above the grass. Absolutely! Couldn’t have made it by myself. God bless you all for that!

A strange thing happened tonight. I told Marilyn (Turner. One of Clark’s health aides.) to hurry and get Gwen. When Gwen came to my bed, she asked me what was happening. I told her that I had to rush and get dressed for a concert, and I was worried because I didn’t know who was going to play with me.

She told me later that since I hadn’t even tried to play in months, she decided to see if I would. So, when she saw how frantic I was, she said, “Well, let’s get your horn, and you warm it up while I get your clothes together.” Quincy (Cavers. One of Clark’s students.) came in and checked out the scene. Gwen told him to run and get my horn. When I blew a note, I snapped out of what had, apparently, been a dream. It was all a dream. The concert and everything. And the sound that came out of my horn brought me back to reality fast. It made me realize what I already knew: that you can’t just pick up your horn after a long time of not playing, and do what you used to do. But, man, it was a beautiful feeling to know that I was strong enough to hold my horn and blow that note! I’d been thinking that I was too weak. Gwen took the photo below while all of that was going on.

Funny how dreams can seem so real. For a moment, I really thought I had a concert to play.Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

Funny how dreams can seem so real. For a moment, I really thought I had a concert to play.
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

It’s good to dream, because it can lead to reality. Now, I’m nowhere near being able to play like I used to do. But who knows? Maybe with some practice… Gotta keep a positive attitude. No matter what!

Gwen asked me what my New Year’s resolutions are, and I told her that my only resolution is to “Keep Steppin’.” Full speed ahead! But, she kept at it, so I thought about a list of resolutions for the first time in a l-o-n-g time. Lately, I’ve had lots of time to think. Back when I was on the circuit, I was busy playing and teaching and traveling. Now, I’ve got more time to reflect. So, I came up with a few things.

1. I want to continue to do my part in mentoring young jazz musicians. They all enjoy learning about my “doodle-tongue” system, which helps them to articulate their fast passages better and more distinctly. We get a big kick out of it. That, and teaching them about the interpretation of the jazz language.  I’d like to make a YouTube video about those lessons one day.

One of the young trumpeters is planning to come back for more lessons soon. He’s seventeen years old, and his name is Ben Seacrist. He’s got a very promising career. And he’s been noticed by a few people in the business for whom I have great respect like Esperanza Spalding and Michael Miller. I’ve enjoyed spending time with Ben, talking about the things that he has tried and mastered. To see a video of Ben’s recent audition for the Grammy Band, click here.

Here's Ben Seacrist sharing a trumpet lesson with me.Photo: Gwen Terry

Here’s Ben Seacrist sharing a trumpet lesson with me.
Photo: Gwen Terry

2. Gwen wants me to work on eliminating cuss words from my vocabulary. I told her that I would try. It’s just the normal way that I’ve talked all of my life, and old habits are hard to break. She told me about a comedian named Steve Harvey, and all about how he is trying to cut out the cussing, too. I’m really going to give it a whirl, because now I realize that I don’t need to keep it up. It’s not a good influence on the younger cats.

3. I want to work on getting out of bed more. Right now, I’m up and in my wheelchair around 1 – 2 hours a day at the most. I know that I need to do better. I’m getting there, because I’m always doing my upper body workouts, and I’m getting stronger.

4. I want to finish my autobiography audiobook, and the CD with Q (Quincy Jones) and Snoop (Lion). Then do some jazz history CDs. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, or some suggestions for the jazz history CDs, just write a reply below or in my Guestbook. Your ideas would be beautiful, and they would mean a lot to me. I’m hoping to get back into the position of generating enough income to pay my own way again.  Man, talking about being thankful when that happens! Then, I’ll be able to help others, like I used to do. And I can get back to supporting the Jazz Foundation of America, so they can help more jazz musicians in need.

5.  I don’t know what #5 is yet. But I’ll think of something.

Meanwhile, enjoy the New Year’s celebrations. And if you’re so inclined, I hope that you’ll check out the broadcast of my quintet when we played at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase in Chicago back in ’89. This was a New Year’s Eve gig that we did live on WBGO and NPR, and it was unforgettable. Absolutely. My dear friend, Red Holloway was featured, and you know what Red can do on his sax. Man! I really dug that set, and I hope you will, too. Willie “The Picker” Pickens was tearing those piano keys up! Larry Gray was definitely playing that bass, and Charles Braughan kept the drum beats swinging. Man! They were all playing their a.., oh, yeah, I’m trying to cut the cussing out. So, I’ll say that it was a great, great set.

On, you can listen in at 1:30 a.m. (Eastern Time) on this New Year’s Eve, or 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on New Year’s Day 2013.

Remember that I love you all!

Clark Terry

| happenings, Happy Holidays | 34 Comments

34 Responses to Happy New Year!

  1. Nils says:

    Dear Clark Terry,

    Wishing you a beautiful year 2014 – All the best of Health and Happiness.
    Your music has always inspired me, as your music is so lyrical.
    All the best!


  2. Jeff Neu says:

    Dear CT,
    You have spent a lifetime teaching jazz to the world and now you are teaching grace and humility. I am always when a super talent manages to stay humble. You are the supeR talent and have stayed so humble and grounded in reality it is really difficult to understand. I suspect you had a really wonderful mother. I have always found people with humility and grace came from families with good role models for mothers. If that is true, your mother must have really been special. People as wonderful as you don’t happen by accident.

    I feel very privileged to have been able to hear you live on multiple occasions. Hearing you live ranks right up there as some of the most special events of my life. I first heard you at Jazz Clinic in Morehead State University. That time I was a high school student. You definitely inspired me to try to learn jazz trumpet. Later I heard you with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. That was really cool as the lead trombone player, Linda Landis, is an old college buddy. She was fortunate and talented enough that you chose her to appear in an all female jazz band while she was studying at Morehead State University. Finally, I heard you at a mall in Cincinnate several years back. Dom’t ask me what years these events happened. Dates escape me. Fortunately, the sounds still reside in my mind. I can live without remembering dates. Not remembering great. Jazz would be too tragic to endure. I was also fortunate to hear the great Oscar Oeterson Live in Cincinnati in the early 1980’s. He appeared with Herboe Hancock in concert. I kind of felt bad for Mr. Hancock that evening. He and Oscar traded fours. I don’t need to tell you Hancock couldn’t battle Oscar playing straight ahead jazz. Hancock started playing his modern quartal harmonies and Oscar p,ayed it all back twice as fast. I deeply regret not hearing you and Oscar together live. Your playing was absolutely perfect for each other. I can listen to your duo album recorded on Pablo every day for monthe and never get tired of it. Simply the best ever. I will continue praying for health and peace for you and Mrs. Terry. She seems like a keeper for sure:). I think you both deserve each other. You both seem to have found the best.

    Be well,
    Jeff Neu

  3. Michael and Zoe Johnston says:

    Dear Clark and Gwen,
    We pray that March is a great month for you! Just know we think the world of you two. We love you.

  4. Greg Jones says:

    Dear Mr. Terry!

    I’ve met you three times in my life, once in Springfield, Ohio, the next night in Toledo with the Newport Jazz All Stars, and once in New York at a tribute to Al Grey. I in fact stayed at Al and Rosie’s house for those few days.

    In Toledo, you not only insisted I eat dinner with you backstage…RIBS. But when I tried to defer, you wandered down the hall, and came back with a plate of Ribs for me anyway! I was stunned at your kindness! WOW! What a gentleman you were…and are!

    I’ve always been a fan of yours…and love so much of what you have done musically. But after reading your website and seeing your struggles…and still keeping such a great attitude. I now realize you as a musician are incredible, but Clark Terry as a human being is a force of positivity, kindness, and a brilliant light to follow.

    My wife and I are going through tough times right now like so many others, but after reading your blog, I know we can Keep on…Keepin’ on.

    We’ll survive if we adopt your positive attitude. Thanks you for still being Clark Terry…the positive force…second only to Big Prez!

    Everyone should know a Clark Terry and have one in their life.

  5. Juliana says:

    Mr. Terry, to hear that you were able to play your horn again, and that you’re getting better, just made me cry. This new year just got a lot better. You’re a blessing to the world and an inspiration for all of us, young musicians. Thank you for living this great, beautiful life.

    • Clark says:

      Your words were beautiful. I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to write to me. Be good to yourself and keep climbing the ladder of life!

  6. Michael and Zoe Johnston says:

    Resolution #1:
    Be more like Clark and Gwen.
    Resolution #2:
    See resolution #1.

    We love you.

  7. David says:

    Dear Clark, my father Tom Smith works at the Columbus Police Department and helped retrieve your trumpet a few years back. It was a pleasure to meet you then, and I wanted to let you know your music is still a very important soundtrack to my (and my family’s) life.

    I recently bought a record of “Ellington 56” which has you and Butch Ballard, among others. Another favorite in our house is your CD with Mike Vax, as well as the Trumpet Kings at Montreux (with Dizzy and Roy Eldridge). Fantastic stuff! The music you made will last many lifetimes to come, and I hope you know how much all your fans appreciate it. Thank you Clark. Best wishes for a warm new year! – David

    • Clark says:

      I still appreciate your father for what he did. I remember it just like it was yesterday. Thank God for Tom! It makes me happy to know that you’ve been enjoying my music. Hope to see you again. Please give my love to your family.

  8. Jay Cohen says:


    You make my dreams come true every day. The lesson I had with you last April has started to blossom into a career in Music. I pray for you and Gwen every day. Please take a look at my new website: and maybe Clark could listen to my take on Stardust. I’d love to know what he thinks.

    Peace and Love,

    Jay Cohen

  9. You are amazing. Your book is amazing. Your life is amazing. Your music is amazing. I hope I can reflect a small part of the example you set in my life, my music, and my attitude. I thank the Big Prez that He gave us you. May peace and joy be yours, and Happy New Year!

    • Clark says:

      Great to hear from you. You’ve got at least 8 1/2 more lives to live. Thanks for all of those good wishes. Love to you and your family.

  10. Happy New Year Clark! I feel blessed to read such positives and inspiring words. You are a great example for ALL of us.
    Big Prez bless you!

  11. Hi Mr. Terry, you have no idea how much of an inspiration you have been to me since I picked up the trumpet. You and my grandfather Lawrence Carroll or (lil Carroll) as you guys called him in the Tom Powell Post Drum and Bugle core showed me what being a good musician and person is all about. I was able to meet your wife Gwen at the JEN Conference last year in Kentucky and bought your book which I could not put down for one second. My grandfather told me some things but not as much as I read in your book. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet you in my life time. I am currently playing in Chicago and running a Jazz program doing exactly what you and my grandfather did in St. Louis. You both left a huge impression on me. I send you many good vibes and all the best to you and Gwen. Thanks for everything you have given me and all of us who aspire to be better.

    • Clark says:

      Man! You brought back some great memories from almost 80 years ago. I remember your grandad, and the Tom Powell Post #77 Drum and Bugle Corps. I enjoyed Your comments. And I’m glad you liked my book. I wish you all the best with your Jazz program in Chicago. Nice to hear from you! Take care. All the best, and keep steppin’.

  12. Sherry and Randy Witt says:

    We are so proud to see you holding your horn again!! Way to go, Clark! Every song begins with one note, so you have begun your next masterpiece! Yay! !

    • Clark says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll be glad when I can continue “a steady diet of playing my horn.” Love you both. I appreciate all that you do, and I pray that BigPrez blesses you.

  13. Michael Miller says:

    Dear Clark…

    You have been a “dream come true” in the lives of so many, so it’s quite beautiful to now see your own dream come true!

    We are looking so forward to many more years of making beautiful music together…

    We love you immensely Clark and Gwen…

    Happy You Near!!!

    Michael, Josh and Noah

    • Clark says:

      It was beautiful to get such encouraging comments from three of my favorite buddies. Can’t wait till we can do it again! Love you all!

  14. Laurie Early says:

    Dear Mr. Terry, Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. Thank you so much for your music! I am grateful that you took the time to share your life through this website and your amazing biography (which I bought for my Kindle so I can read it as I travel back and forth to my jazz classes.) I am also grateful that the Jazz Foundation is able to be of assistance to you, they are such an amazing organization. All my best wishes to you now and always, Laurie

    • Clark says:

      A message like yours to an old poot like me can’t help but make me happy. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed my music and my book. Who’s teaching your jazz classes? I agree wholeheartedly with you about JFA. They’re fantastic! I wish you a Happy 2013, and a bright future with all the good blessings that Big Prez has to offer.

  15. Jeff Seacrist says:

    Bless you Mr. Terry for all you do for the world of music, and for young people today, including my son Benjamin. You are a true inspiration and an amazing person. I hope all of your resolutions come true in 2013, including #5. Happy New Year!

  16. Edgar Ibarra says:

    Dear Mr. Terry:
    Thank you for your music, your heart and your words.
    The sound of your music has meant so much to me, my father and my children… so, three generations of ears have enjoyed it.
    I am one of your biggest fans in Mexico and I wish you the best Sir, may Big Prez bless you.

  17. myriam says:

    Thank you and happy and healthy year!!! <3

  18. Mc says:

    Best wishes to both of you!
    You are my heroes!

  19. Dan Schunks says:

    Happy New Year and many more to you! I have followed your career since the Tonight Show and later Big Bad Band and enjoyed your autobiography where I found out that your mother and I were from the same town, Crystal City. Thank you not only for your music but for your humanity. Through your art, you have built bridges to bring humanity together and eliminate the gulfs between us. You are a blessing to us all. Keep on, keepin’ on and sharing your soul with us!

  20. Dan Clanton says:

    Thanks for your inspiring words and grit, Mr. Clark. If…no, when you put together some resources on Jazz history, I’ll happily find a way to incorporate them into my Jazz History class. After all, the best way to learn about history is to listen to those who made it! All our best for a speedy recovery, and keep on steppin’!