Thanks For Brightening My Days!

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.

Other friends, like Lois Gilbert, and Doug Ramsey have reached out to their friends and followers. To both of you, I 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.

This great blog was done my friend, Marc Meyers. Click here to check it out.

My friend Chip Stern did a beautiful blog, too. Click here to see it.

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.


Alan Matheson and Clark It was a real kick to have Alan here in my home. Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

Alan Matheson and Clark
It was a real kick to have Alan here in my home.
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

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.


“Sweet” Willie Singleton and his wife Carol with Clark It was so beautiful to hang out with Willie and Carol. Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

“Sweet” Willie Singleton and his wife Carol with Clark
It was so beautiful to hang out with Willie and Carol.
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

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.


Clark and Ben Seacrist I’m so proud of him! Real promising career. Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

Clark and Ben Seacrist
I’m so proud of him! Real promising career.
Photo Credit: Gwen Terry

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!

| general, happenings | 14 Comments

14 Responses to Thanks For Brightening My Days!

  1. Michael and Zoe Johnston says:

    Dear Clark and Gwen,

    Back on the road and playing for you. As “Old Geez'” used to say, “Play for someone you love, man!”

    Zoe and I miss and love you very much.

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

    Hi Cuzzy Clark!
    We so much enjoy reading the blog and hearing about the new chapters in your life. Truly an inspiration! Sending much love to you and Gwen from the Heartland…Mona, Jazzy and Josh

  3. Roger and Nancy Graf says:

    We’re Ben Seacrist’s grandparents and can’t thank you enough for the time that you spend with Ben. It means so much to him and it makes us happy to know that it also means a lot to you. We don’t get to see him much these days since he’s busy with school and we live in Minnesota, but it was nice to see his photo with you here. God bless you, Clark Terry!

  4. Derek says:

    I too love reading your blogs, Mr Terry. Warm, fun, inspirational and most uplifting for all of us!!
    Wishing you and Mrs T another wonderful year with all your family and friends.

  5. Thanks for all you’ve given to the world, and all you continue to give. Happy 93rd birthday!

  6. Justin Vargo says:

    Mr. Terry,

    With so many jazz musicians leaving us this year, it’s so good to know that you keep on keepin’ on. As the snow piles up here in Cleveland, I can’t help but think of when I saw you play here two days after your 87th birthday during a big snowstorm.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re picking up the flugelhorn again. I recently bought the reissued studio version of Duke’s ‘Newport 1958’ album, which has you playing flugelhorn on a few songs. Even among that amazing band (what a trumpet section!), your solos stand out and still sound fresh.

    Happy Birthday! Thank you for all of the music and for continuing to serve as inspiration to so many people.

  7. Valerie Takacs says:

    Clark, I always enjoy reading your blogs. It’s like one extra chapter of your book after another. Thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us who love you so much. I especially wanted to wish you a very Happy Birthday. God has blessed you with another year on the right side of the grass, and he has blessed us as well. I also wish you and Gwen a Blessed Christmas. Today I listened to the Christmas album you did with Joe Williams a while back. It really got me in a festive mood. You take care if yourself and enjoy every minute with your beautiful Gwen. God bless you both and thank you again for all that you do!

  8. Christine Hagemann says:

    Thank you so very much for all the years of great playing you gave to the world. Nobody does it better, Mr. Terry. I heard you at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago many times. It was always hard to leave the club when you were finished performing. It was such a magical experience. I feel fortunate to have lived in your lifetime. Thanks for sharing your music with me and all other jazz fans. All the best to you and your family.

  9. Theresa Johnson says:

    Happy B’Day Sir Terry thanks for being a divine messenger and a soul healer muah!

  10. Vladimir Khusid says:

    Dear Mr. Clark Terry , you’ve done for all of us many years

    ( lovers of Jazz Music) so much and you did help a lot of Musicians and just

    people in your Life – that I want to say to You ” THANK YOU ! ”

    And it doesn’t matter if you feel like an old fart, most important your Mind always same as before ! And that’s a Beauty of your Life today.Happy Birthday dear Mr Clark Terry and Many Happy Returns! We All with you.

  11. Amin Fatemi says:

    Happy birthday dear Clark I wish you a happy birthday and great days from Kerman,Iran I couldn’t find any teachers here so I started playing the horn with your 1991 trumpet course you are always a master an i with you a great birthday Happy birthday jazz master

  12. Larry Ware says:

    Happy Birthday!

  13. Danny Hammerton says:

    Happy Birthday !!!
    Many thanks for being one of my biggest heros !!!
    Really loved your book n what an inspiring insight
    into your world … I’ve been a pro player for years
    now n after looking for years I picked up my beloved
    CT flugelhorn … love it ! 🙂 I’m also presuming you’ve
    seen the fantastic DVD at Montreux Jazz with Oscar
    Joe Pass , Pedersson Bobby Durham, Milt n Ronnie Scott ?
    Hmmm … Maybe ye not into watching yourself like me
    but I must have watched this a thousand times and just love it
    so much … great happy vibe 🙂 Lots of Love n keep smiling ..
    Danny x

  14. Michael Miller says:

    Clark, Clark, Clark! It’s always a total treat to be able to treasure what you toot! 🙂 That’s one heckuva wonderful blog you’ve just posted, and hopefully, more of that tooting will soon be coming from your flugelhorn and trumpet too!

    Josh, Noah and I are just three of the millions who, I’m sure, are all so very grateful for all you’ve given for so many years. May you keep on keepin’ on until the cows come home. And, actually, since there aren’t any cows anywhere near you, that pretty much means you’ll need to keep on keepin’ on forever!

    Sending you much love and many thanks,

    Michael, Josh and Noah