As my 93rd birthday gets closer, I want you all to know that your prayers, calls, letters, cards, emails and well wishes mean a whole lot to me! And your donations for my 24-hour home care, man, I can’t even begin to explain how very grateful I am. You’re making it possible for me to stay involved on the jazz scene. Couldn’t do it without your love. Thanks for brightening my days! Each and every one of you. You’re giving me so many, many reasons to keep on keepin’ on!
My dear friends Jimmy Owens and Maxine Gordon have spearheaded drives to help me. I appreciate what Jimmy and Maxine have done very, very much. There are no words to truly express my gratitude. So, in keeping with Duke Ellington’s vibe, “Simplicity is a most complex form,” I’ll simply say thank you and God bless you.
My dear friends at The Jazz Foundation of America paid the salaries of my heath aides for many years. I couldn’t have stayed at home without their help, because my insurance doesn’t cover health aides. I knew that JFA could only do so much for me, because there were lots of other cats out there who were getting help from JFA, and more cats are running into trouble everyday. So, I was v-e-r-y happy when my beautiful friends and fans started sending donations to the Clark Terry Fund that JFA set up for me. Man! Talking about beautiful! Now, JFA can still help me, while they keep on helping other musicians in dire need. I could write a million words of appreciation to JFA, my friends, and my fans. But, again, I’ll simply say thank you and God bless you.
Marc Meyers and Chip Stern dedicated huge sections of their blogs. So, again, I’ll simply say thank you and God bless you.
When you get to be an old fart like me, it’s a humbling experience to witness so much love! Big Prez (Clark’s nickname for God) has been good to me. I’m thankful for each day, and for all of you. If you have a few minutes to write a message in my Guestbook, please do so, and I would appreciate it greatly. I enjoy hearing Gwen read them to me. Over and over again. Your words always make me happy.
Talking about being thankful, I’m a very blessed man to have students who travel so far to come study with me. Sometimes I teach from my wheelchair, and sometimes from my bed. The students say they don’t mind, and it makes me happy to know that they’re compassionate and understanding.
The most I can sit up is around two or three hours each day, before my back starts hurting. But I do my best to share techniques with them because I love playing a part in helping dreams to come true for young musicians. Well, I guess you could say that most musicians are young compared to my age.
Everyday is school. That’s what I said to my good friend Alan Matheson. He agreed with me, since he always wants to learn more about jazz, improvisation, and swinging in general. Real nice cat and a great player. Plays trumpet and piano, and he teaches Jazz History at Vancouver Community College.
Man! We had a beautiful time together. Alan was comping (accompanying) for me while I worked out some scat solos on “Jive At Five,” and other old favorites.
I’ve always felt that you’ve got to be able sing what you play. So, I got Alan to sing along with me, work on swinging the scat syllables, and then play that same thing on his horn. You know how much I love teaching!
We talked about the times when we did some nice shows with his big band in Vancouver a while back. And he brought me some CDs by the Bennie Moten band from back when Holy (Count Basie) joined Bennie’s band in 1929. I got a real kick out of hearing those records! Basie could play some mean stride piano back then. He even took a scat solo on one tune!
“Sweet” Willie Singleton came down from Grand Rapids to visit me, and he brought his lovely wife Carol, too. Willie used to play lead trumpet in my Big Badd Band. He was here on one of those days when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But we had a good time anyway, shooting the breeze about some of the tours we did. Late hours, no sleep, and lots of swinging music. We had a ball talking about some of those great times.
When Ben Seacrist came to visit me from Portland, we spent a lot of time working on improvisation and playing fast passages. I told him to be true to each note. Every note deserves to be heard. He kept at it until he surprised both of us!
Gwen drove him to a jam session in Little Rock at a little club called The After Thought. Well, Ben said he had his eyes closed while he was wailing on a solo. All of a sudden, he felt somebody’s hand near his pants pocket. A cat from the audience was stuffing a tip in there. Man! I thought that was wonderful. Incidentally, Ben is coming along beautifully. Now, he’s a freshman at The New School, making great strides.
Hanging with Alan, Willie and Ben was a gas! It’s always beautiful to stay in touch. I really appreciate how all of you stay in touch with me. I hope to have many more days of staying in touch in with you. I send my love to you all.
For my dear friends who have gone on to glory this year – Frank Wess, Chico Hamilton, Cedar Walton, Marian McPartland, Jennie Wilkins, Ed Shaughnessy, Phil Ramone, Mulgrew Miller, George Duke, Donald Byrd and Claude Nobs – you’re still in my heart, staying in touch. Before this year is out, I plan to do a tribute to each of you in my blog. And I’ve got to include the great Nelson Mandela, too. We’ll forever love and miss you all!
Yesterday, I asked Gwen to bring my flugelhorn to me. I’ve been doing lots of arm exercises, and it’s getting easier for me to hold my instrument upright. With all of your love and encouragement, I’ve made up my mind to try playing again. It might take a little while, but who knows what the future holds.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ll write another blog soon. Take care, and enjoy each day.
God bless you!